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Belt-Hambrink Trial.--Proceedings of the trial of Logan Belt, Jas. D. Belt, George Ratcliff and Earl Sherwood for the murder of Luke Hambrink of the night of April 1, 1879. General characteristics surrounding trial both on side of people and defense. On Thursday, April 7th, the selection of a jury was begun, and progressed rapidly until Friday evening, when nine jurors were secured. It was then thought that it would be a difficult matter to secure the other three, as it was evident to all that the defense intended exhausting the county, if possible. By skillful management on to part of counsel for the people, Hons. J. Q. A. Ledbetter and W. S. Morris, the defense were foiled in this attempt, and by 12 a.m. Saturday (9th inst.) the Jury entire was secured. It consisted of men named as follows: Clement Matheny, John A. Tinsley, Emanuel Pittman, William O'Hare, Baker Finney, Wm. I. Jenkins, Charles A. Ferrell, Marcus Sheldon, Robert Cowgill, Henry Ferrell, James Renfro and Joseph Ferrell, all of whom were taken from three precincts only, viz: seven being obtained in Monroe, four in Rose Clare and one in McFarlan precinct.
Saturday afternoon session.--The Jury being accepted and sworn in, the opening statements were made, the points of which we give as follows:
Statement For The People-By W. S. Morris
It was clear and concise and tolerably full, though it was evident that the entire bulk of evidence to be produced was not by any means shown in the opening statement. He began his statement by first calling the attention of the jury to the great importance of clearly noting all the evidence to be brought forth in the trial in question. He also pointed out the great importance to the general public of a true verdict being rendered in accordance with law and evidence -showing the disastrous results of a bad or untrue verdict: further showing that both the people (prosecution)and the defense were satisfied with the jury as selected, and whom he was then addressing. After this he drew a diagram of the situation of the premises where Luke Hambrink was killed, showing location of sleeping apartments of Hambrink and family, and the manner in which the dark deed was committed-position of perpetrators, etc., as shown by evidence already brought out and evidence yet to be produced. He also described the circumstances as related to the inmates of the Hambrink dwelling - locating each person and giving actions and conversation of each immediately after the death of Hambrink, etc. He stated personal characteristics of Hambrink as being an economical, money-making man, and a man who loaned a great deal of money; also, social relation as existed between him and his family--showing that the general social relation as should exist between husband and wife did not exist between Luke Hambrink and the wife of his bosom. She was hard of hearing, etc., and altogether, a person possessing a temperament that would allow her to be readily used by designing persons; or, otherwise speaking, a "ready tool" in the hands of the bloody perpetrators of the awful deed
committed on that first night in April, 1879. She was a person whom they well might use, unsuspectingly, as an instrument or an ally to aid them in the execution of a horrible crime. Afterward they could palm off upon her and members of her family the very crime which they, themselves, committed. He further stated to the jury the different features surrounding the death of Hambrink, and that his death was caused by a wound from a shot fired from a pistol of 38-calibre central fire. The physician called upon, a Dr. G. W. Hill, said in his statement that he thought Hambrink died almost instantly, perhaps taking a few steps.
He then pointed out the force of circumstantial evidence as compared with direct evidence--showing that it was sometimes as good, if not better. He illustrated the same by telling the jury that, on a day previous, Mr. A. had picked up from among some half-dozen other hats, his Morris hat and worn it off. When he came to look for his hat, he found it not, so quietly waited until each of the gentlemen had taken up their respective hats and passed out. Then he immediately picked up the remaining hat instead of his own, and looking under the inside band of same, found the name of the rightful owner. He knew thereby who had taken his Morris hat, and so, upon the following day, went to and exchanged hats with the gentleman.
Also, he related circumstances of the killing of Doc. Oldham in December 1875, by Logan Belt. He also told of the combination or organization afterward, in the spring of 1876, of a Ku Klux Klan by Belt, for the purpose of intimidating, running off, and killing all witnesses vs. Belt whom they could not scare from the country. He further stated to the jury an outline of their secret meetings while they were discussing future plans for depredations to be
committed, and their
manner of coming together, etc. He also gave the oath
members were compelled to take, and gave a list of the
depredations committed, among which were the killing of
Luke Hambrink, the shooting of Geo. W. Covert, and the
burning of the houses of Lucy Sterling, Mrs. Greene and
the Rock Creek schoolhouse, etc., etc. In pursuance of
the plans laid by that organization, and that, through
force of fear, they had driven some good men into their
organization in order to present a respectable appearance
and thereby keep their dark deeds secure from law and
All this, Mr. Morris stated, would be introduced in the trial simply for the purpose of corroboration of testimony that would be offered; not to throw prejudice upon the case, but to prove certain facts relative to or connected with the murder of Luke Hambrink.
He then read the indictment vs. Logan Belt and others for the murder of Hambrink, as rendered by the grand jury of the October term of the Circuit Court, 1886, of whom John J. Shearer was foreman. After the reading of which, he gave an account of the arrest made, the preliminary trial or habeas corpus examination before Judge McCartney, and the result of the same-Logan Belt being committed to Jail without bail; Earl Sherwood, James D. Belt, George Ratcliff and Matthew Ledbetter admitted to bail, and the indictment against Henry Ledbetter mollied. A summary of the evidence as to the killing of Hambrink by Belt, and which would be before them for consideration, was then given the Jury as follows:
m at the State would be able to show that prior threats had been made by Belt to take the life of Hambrink, on one occasion having said that if Hambrink should move that fence, which was in dispute, he would kill him, as also at
various other times. That Hambrink was a witness vs. Belt in the Belt-Oldham murder case, that Belt believed Hambrink to be in his way in making a successful defense in the same charging Hambrink with being interested in the prosecution and with fostering or loaning money to the Oldhams for the purpose of aiding them in prosecuting, and that Belt saw it to his interest to remove Hambrink out of the way. That Hambrink received written notices a shore time prior to this death, and the following, which he received in the year 1876, we give below:
September 23rd, 1876
Mr. Hambrink, Luke--You are hereby notified to keep from your place of residence that Lucy Mellon, a prostitute woman, and Tucker Morgan, if you would enjoy life and property, as we intend to have more virtue, morality and christianity in this neighborhood. Sir, bear in mind. (Signed) Regulators of Crittenden and Hardin Counties.
That they expected to prove that Logan Belt was the author of the aforegoing notice;- and that notices were served on other important witnesses of a character of nature that would tend towards scaring off said witnesses and prevent them from appearing against him in trial. Further, that it was their intention to overrun the county and create a panic among the citizens in order to achieve their ends. Again, he added, that some would say that some of the witnesses were not to be believed, and that some of them had been steeped in crime, etc. This he refuted by saying that assassinators invariably pick upon such men to assist them in committing a dark deed, and that the testimony of such men could not be thrown aside simply because they
were men of a like ilk of the accused. Also, that the evidence would show that Logan Belt endeavored to have William Frailey burn Rock Creek school house on the night of the murder of Hambrink, saying that it would raise hell, and that they would lay it on the Oldhams, but Frailey refused. That while in Joliet together, Belt told Frailey that he killed Luke Hambrink. That they expected to prove that Belt told Mrs. Lackey that he would kill Hambrink. That Belt instructed Mrs. Hambrink to take an axe and break in the bureau and secure Hambrink's money, and also asked if Hambrink was armed, and the reply was that he kept a pitchfork by his bed. Belt said that he would play hell with a pitchfork. That meetings were held in a dark hollow below Cave-in-Rock, and there plans were suggested and matured whereby masks, lanterns, arms, etc., could be obtained, and schemes were discussed and laid to draw upon the public reason for wearing masks were in order that, when crime was committed, they would be able to swear, so their leaders told them, that they did not recognize each other, as they would not know who all were along with them.
Mr., Morris challenged the defense to produce a single iota of evidence that would tend toward shifting the crime of the murder of Luke Hambrink on the Oldham family. He then showed the position of the surrounding fields, and that tracks of four men were visible, and that this corroborates Frailey's testimony. That the defense were frequently seen around the premises of Hambrink prior to his murder, and that Earl Sherwood resided near in an old shop on Belt's place hard by, further explaining to the Jury the evidence of certain witnesses. He then brought the statement to a finis by asking the Jury to carefully examine facts according to evidence and give a verdict in accordance with
the testimony and in behalf of justice, and in as much as they valued the future welfare of Hardin County citizens in a Hardin County court of justice, and also the future welfare of their posterity to see to it that all side-bar issues that might be thrown in by the defense for the purpose of diverting their minds from real, better, and heavier evidence, have no such effect with them when it came to weighing the more solid' testimony.
Statement of Defense
Hon. T. B. Stelle made the opening statement in behalf of the defense, and said he regretted that the counsel for the State wished the jury to return a verdict in accordance with popular clamor. He appealed to their conscience or, rather, their feelings. He appealed to their American patriotism, when it came to the serious matter of the life of an American citizen. He tried to show a vindictive spirit in the opening statement of the people, and admonished the jury that it was better that ninety and nine criminals escape the avenging hand of justice than to jeopardise the life and best interests of an innocent person, and stating that the wrong men were indicted for the crime. He made reference to the statement of Mr. Morris that the people and people's witnesses were not on trial, etc., Mr. Morris having said this in closing his statement to the jury. He (Stelle) dwelt with much affected force upon the aforesaid statement, and also upon the fact that Matthew and Henry Ledbetter were endorsed as witnesses for the State. That too, said he, for the sole purpose of shielding the real perpetrators and casting the crime upon the accused, when they, the accused, were innocent of the charge. He insinuated that the family of Luke Hambrink were the persons
who committed the crime--for the simple reason that Hambrink, as the defense claim, had threatened to go back to Germany and take his money and little son Peter with him. He said his family wished to have the benefit of that money, and deemed it necessary to kill him in order to retain it in the family. He admitted, however, that Logan Belt might have been the attorney of Mrs. Hambrink. He claimed that Hambrink had refused to furnish the Oldhams with money with which to prosecute Belt. It was to the interest of Belt to have Hambrink live, as then, perhaps, his money would not fall into the hands of his family and into the hands of the Oldhams. He further stated that, while they were not installed as prosecutors of crime for the State, they intended, not withstanding, to act in that capacity, and not only show the defendants innocent of the crime with which they were charged, but also show who the real murderers were, and, in behalf of the people of Hardin County, bring them to Justice. That they could prove that Mrs. Hambrink was an enemy to her husband, and that Matthew Ledbetter, her brother, and the Oldhams were in cooperation, and were, with her, working to secure Hambrink's money. That the diagram of positions, as given by the State, was most assuredly wrong, and that, instead of being as they represented, it was, or nearly so, the reverse. They meant to prove that it was his own family who murdered him and that he, Stelle, meant to stand shoulder to shoulder with Messrs. Ledbetter and Morris in the prosecution. He accused Wm. Frailey, witness for the people, as being ready to swear false, having as a motive for doing so simply and wholly a desire for revenge. Belt, upon his return, had cast off and denounced his former wife because she had proved to be an adulteress and as he expressed it, a common strumpet. Because Belt had cast her off
and married again, Frailey sought revenge, he being a brother to Belt's former wife.
In regard to Mrs. Lackey, as a witness, he expressed himself of ridicule. Her evidence he regarded as being of no importance, saying that it could not be relied upon, as she was a strange person, having both an eccentric and vindictive disposition. He asked the jury to look at the motives that might actuate men who should be witnesses for the people, especially, in the instance of Wm. Frailey as a witness against the defense and for the State. He also stated to the jury that the defense would be able to show that the relatives of Luke Hambrink had both opportunities and motives for committing the murder, and seeing forth the idea that the motives, on the part of some of the witnesses, were self-preservation, and on the part of others as being through a sense of revenge. He accused the prosecution with secreting a part of the witnesses for the people in order that the defense could not obtain access to them or learn anything of what might be the testimony of these witnesses. He claimed the defense had a right to know, in order to be prepared to meet the prosecution, who had, he said, conspired together to punish innocent men. He tried to impress upon the jury that great doubt was implied in the case, and that they must be careful to look at the motives of each witness brought upon the stand and throw away all evidence that might be quest-toned or thrown in doubt.
Judge Baker's instructions to the jury were very close and rigid, showing that he fully realized the necessity of great watchfulness of close attention in this regard. Three escorts, with strict instructions' were placed with the jury, the names of whom are Thos. L. Jenkins, John H. Ferrell, and George T. Murphy, all good men, who can be relied upon to see that the strict
instructions of the Judge are to the letter carried out.
We inferred from the harsh attack made by Judge Stelle, of the defense, upon Wm. Frailey and Mrs. N. Lackey, in his opening statement to the jury, that those two witnesses were feared most by the defense. We considered the statement made by Judge Stelle as being the weakest thing of the kind ever heard by us, but, in very truth, it could not have been otherwise, as he had no points and no foundation upon which to base an argument or statement.
We shall, in the next issue, begin with the evidence in the Belt-Hambrink trial, and which shall be as full and just as near the facts, truth, as we can get it. It may take three or four weeks to give the trial entire, but just be patient until we get through. We think you will agree with us that we have given you a true and clear synopsis of this, the most important feature or event in the annals of Hardin Country history. We noted every expression and every movement, both on the side of the State and also on the side of the defense. We highly comment the counsel for the people and admire the backbone displayed by them in the prosecution. The defense also wore a "bold front" throughout up to the time when Sam Grindstaff was placed on the witness chair. Then the face of Mr. Belt (Logan) blanched, and the "star of hope" of the defense seemed to wane. Several noticed this, but none understood why such was the case.
The Jury on the Belt-Hambrink trial were out only thirty minutes, and rendered a verdict of "Not guilty".
Judge McCartney saw enough in the evidence, as given in the habeas corpus trial in the Belt
Hambrink case, as to not admit all of the defendents to bail. Notwithstanding this fact, and notwithstanding the fact that a great deal more and a great deal stronger evidence was before this jury than was before Judge McCartney last fall, still a verdict of "Not guilty" was rendered. Strange, isn't it?
The publication of the truth or facts never yet hurt this or any other county. It is the smothering up and the covering up of such deviltry that does us harm abroad. It will creep out anyhow in the course of time, and, when it does, the stench will be much greater, for the putridness will have grown greater. Open denouncement and suppression is the quickest and only remedy, and the only plan to insure safety of life and property and the county from bankruptcy.
Early Monday morning, April 11th, the witnesses for the people were called, sworn in and retired--then again called in regular order, as follows:
Henry Ledbetter: Am a brother-in-law of Luke Hambrink, deceased. At the time of murder I lived about a quarter of a mile from Hambrink's place, and was working for Hambrink at that time. On the evening of the murder, I had gone up to Charley Buckhart's for the purpose of sitting up with a sick lady by the name of Browning. Chas. Buckhart and wife and Wm. Browning were there, and Mr. Hambrink came over just after dark and remained until a few minutes after eight o'clock, when he returned home. He only lived some three or four hundred yards from Buckhart's. I saw a man pass just before Luke started home, and just after that I heard someone whistling and singing. Stepping to the door, I saw a man coming up the road riding and recognized Wm. Frailey; he was
going towards Hambrink's. I saw another man coming up out of the field or wood and quartering up towards Frailey from the south side of the road. He dropped into the road just behind Frailey in the hollow and near a drain between Buckhart's and Hambrink's, but I don't know who that man was. Mrs. Greene, Mr. Belt, Mr. Shoemaker and Mr. Austin all lived in that direction. Mr. Austin lived nearest, and Mr. Belt lived about two and a half miles on an airline and about three by road. Hambrink started home about fifteen or twenty minutes after he, Ledbetter, saw the men. Witness and his wife were giving medicine to Mrs. Browning, and, just as they were preparing to give another dose at 9 o'clock, Hambrink's little son Peter came after Charley Buckhart. He told him that his mother wanted him to come over, as his child was sick and crying, and that she could do nothing with it. Mrs. Hambrink was keeping Buckhart's child. Buckhart went, and in a few minutes after, the conch blew, whereupon Ledbetter immediately ran over and found Buckhart standing in the road still blowing the conch. In reply to question asked by Ledbetter as to what was the matter, he said that Hambrink has been killed. They went in, and Buckhart laid the conch upon a shelf. Hambrink was found lying in the door of the old house, room occupied by Mrs. Hambrink. He was on his face, with his toes reaching out on the doorstep, and with a three-tined pitchfork of which he still had a grasp, lying under him, with the handle of the same extending back under the left arm. He Just had on his underclothing--having stripped and put on fresh underclothing--and a shot was found in his left side and rather in front, as though he was shot while facing the foe. His blouse was lying on a corner shelf, and his dirty clothing was lying beside his bed, the cover of which was thrown back, and an im-
print upon the bed as though a man had sat thereon. From this the witness inferred that Hambrink was preparing to retire when he received the fatal shot. Witness saw blood at the door step of the old house and also underneath Hambrink. All this occurred in Hardin County, Ill., in the year 1879. He was at the inquest the next day. Mr. Morris asked who Claiborne and Grant Belt were, and was told by the witness. Witness had no reason to believe that Tobe(Matthew) Ledbetter had anything to do with the murder. Tobe lived at Alex Frailey's at the time of the murder, which-was about two miles from Hambrink's. Witness was at Tobe's when he heard that he was indicted for the murder of Hambrink, and, as he was preparing to go to court, he went on the following morning to Elizabethtown. Witness diagrammed the premises of Hambrink for the benefit of the jury.
Henry Ledbetter: Simply a repetition of the former statement, with a few exceptions, which are given. Witness married Rebecca Tucker. Chas. Buckhart married Martha Hambrink. Stelle asked the witness what Wm. Browning was at Buckhart's for and where has he been since? Browning was there sitting up with the sick woman, and afterward he removed to Pope County, Ill. Mrs. Browning was moved away pretty soon after the murder to Equality by a man named Mitchell, he thought, though not positive in that regard. Witness married a half-sister of Morgan Tucker. Buckhart had two or three children altogether. Mrs. Hambrink had the child next to the baby, which was one week old. It was sick and crying that night, and the boy Peter had come over after Buckhart to go and take care of it. He said it was hurt and bleeding. His mother had told him
this. Buckhart had only time to get there when the conch blew. The witness went in the old house, passing in by the left side of Hambrink, but Buckhart remained on the porch. Mrs. Hambrink was sitting, rocking the child--no lamp lit, but the fire was stirred up. The lamp was in Luke's room. Peter was in with his mother. Sherman Browning was asleep . The witness was the second person there. Bettie Oldham, Hambrink's daughter, was there. She was 13 years of age. Hambrink had seven children. Martha had married Chas. Buckhart; Jane, Frank Dale; Hannah, Jack Oldham; Lucy, George Dale; Bettie, Jas. Oldham, and two were unmarried. Mrs. Hambrink was singing and talking to the child when the witness went in and asked, ' "Who done that?" She said she did not know, and asked what was to be done. He told her the coroner would have to be brought, and immediately went after him, getting back at daylight next morning. The moon shone till about 3 o'clock a.m. that night. Hambrink had not said he could take his money and go to Germany, but simply his boy Peter. Hambrink and his family were on good terms, but, that Luke and his wife had not been living harmoniously until within a few weeks preceding the murder. They knew Hambrink had his money deposited in the bank at Shawneetown. It was generally understood that Hambrink and his sons-in-law were engaged in the prosecution of Belt for the killing of Oldham. Jack Oldham lived about a quarter of a mile from Hambrink's. Mrs. Hambrink had her clothes on, and had not been asleep up to the time of the murder. Hambrink had hold of the fork near the tines. He saw Frailey pass about 8 p.m.; the moon was shining, and Luke started home a few minutes after. Alex Ledbetter told the witness he had been indicted, and he went to Elizabethtown voluntarily without arrest. A nolle prosequi
was entered in his case on insufficient evidence. He had never told anyone at the shop of Guideon Howell that, if he should tell what he knew, his brother Tobe would hang. He had never quarreled with his brother in his life.
Matthew Ledbetter: Name stated. Nicknamed Tobe. He was one of the men indicted by the grand jury, but went to Elizabethtown before he was arrested. His father's name was John and his grandfather's name was James. Was well acquainted with the defendants. He lived at his father's during 1878 and 1879, but in the fall of 1879, moved to the Hurt place belonging to Logan Belt. Witness was raised in this county, but his father came from Tennessee. He had known Belt from boyhood, and Sherwood about seventeen years. The Hurt place adjoined Hambrink' s. Belt lived about two miles from Hambrink on an airline and about two and a half miles by road. David Shoemaker lived to the right of that line and Dan Austin, he thought, lived in the old school house at the time of the murder. Mrs. Greene lived on or near that line, and about one-half mile from Hambrink 's. There were hard feelings between Belt and Hambrink; their places joined, and Luke had threatened to tear away the fence between them, which he had erected himself. Belt told Tobe that if he did tear that fence away, he had better be in hell the moment he did it. He said that he (Belt) would not be any too good if he should be over there on the hillside with his gun to shoot him. Belt told Dan Austin that Hambrink was furnishing the Oldhams with $500 with which to prosecute him (Belt), and sent Tobe to interview Hambrink in regard to it. Hambrink told Tobe that he was not. Belt also came to where he was working one
day and told Tobe that
Geo. and Jack Oldham were going to murder Hambrink to get
his money. This was in February, before the murder in
April. Tobe told Belt he had not before heard of such a
thing, where upon Logan exclaimed, "Why, hell fire'
It's all over the country." Tobe said he was not in
anyway related to either John Q. A. Or John T. Ledbetter.
Tobe went to see Belt in behalf of Mrs. Hambrink and in
regard to having her dower set apart for her. Belt said
he would meet her at Tobe's house upon a certain evening,
and to tell her to be sure and meet him at the appointed
date. She was there as agreed upon, but Logan did not
come. He afterward told Tobe to tell her to manage
somehow to get possession of all his money and then let
him do the lawing if he wanted to, as he would then be
destitute of means to law with. He had heard Belt say a
"right smart" he said, in regard to Hambrink,
but did not remember just all he had said. Belt again
told him to tell Mrs. Hambrink to take an axe and burst
in the bureau and secure all the money it contained, but
to wait until Hambrink had the most money before doing
so. After she had done so, he was to tell her what to do.
She said she would not get it that way, and that the
drawer was locked. Belt asked Tobe what corner of the
house Hambrink slept in, and if he did not sleep in the
southeast corner of the house next to Buckhart's? Tobe
replied in the affirmative. Belt then asked if Luke kept
himself armed, and was told by the witness that he kept a
pitchfork by his bed, and that if anyone should interrupt
him, they would get a pitchfork stuck into them. Belt
said he would play hell with a pitchfork. He also asked
if Luke made any changes in regard to his sleeping
apartment in either warm or cold weather. Witness did not
know that he did. Witness had a dance at his house on the
night of the murder, and it broke
up about ten o'clock. Jack Oldham was the fiddler. Chas. Buckhart was not there. Geo. Dale and his wife were there, but went home about nine o'clock, or one hour before the dance was broken up. The sons-in-law of Hambrink were all there at the dance except Charles Buckhart. Witness heard of the event the next morning and was at the coroner's inquest, getting there at about seven o'clock. Belt had told Tobe previous to the murder that, if he (Belt) was in Tobe's place, and if Mrs. Hambrink was his sister, as she was Tobe's, he would kill the d--d, flop-eared, Dutch son-of-a-b---h. Witness moved away from the Hurt place because he was afraid to stay there, he said, as the Belts and Geo. Ratcliffe were around the premises of Belt all the time, and he was working for Belt. Plenty of arms, ammunition, etc., were kept around Belt's house, and all were armed. He moved from the Hurt place about the last of February or the first of March. One morning, when he went to Belt's to work, he found Jas. D. Belt, Tom Leeper, Frank Hardin, Wm. Greene Wm. Frailey and Geo. Ratcliffe all there. He heard them say they slept there, and that "scared him up" he said. He moved out of the neighborhood as soon as possible. The last day he worked for Belt, Jas. D. Belt and Thos. Leeper were there. Witness was cutting out fence row and Logan Belt passed him going to Thomas Hodge's to stay all night, and told him---. Here the defense objected to the testimony, saying it was entirely outside of the case in question. The jury were withdrawn from the courtroom, and Mr. Morris, of the prosecution, stated to the court that it was not outside evidence, for by such evidence he wished to show that there was a conspiracy formed for the purpose of removing out of the way all the important witnesses against Belt, and this, too, was prior to the killing of Hambrink, and that this was part of the testimony
of the witness was to tend partially toward showing this fact. He read as authority for witness proceding with evidence, Sec. 1078 and 1079 of Vol. 1 of Bishops Criminal Procedure, and also some other authorities to the same effect. Stelle, Pillow and Youngblood, in behalf of the defense, endeavored to show authority for the inadmissibility of such evidence, and Mr. Youngblood, stated to the court that, "unlike Judge Stelle, he did not propose to identify himself with the prosecution, but was there for the sole purpose of defending the accused, and none other. That he thought the authority as read by him was sufficient to convince the court that such evidence was wholly inadmissible, and he trusted the court would so decide." After some two hours discussion upon the matter, Judge Baker sustained the claim of the counsel for the people, that they had a right to introduce such evidence, stating that as the people had shown in their opening statement, that such evidence would be introduced, and that as the purpose for introducing said evidence was also shown; therefore, the court had no right to debar them of the privilege, and ordered that the people proceed with the witness. Whereupon witness stated that Belt passed by him, where he was engaged cutting out the fence row, and told him he was going over to Thos. Hodge's to stay all night. He said Wm. Frailey and Joe Lowry had gone to town, and he (Belt) was going up there to stay all night. Belt told Tobe that, if he was a little further up, he would show him where Covert waylaid him, and that if he had come along he would have been killed. Witness saw Joe Lowry, Wm. Frailey, Jas. D. Belt and Tom Leeper at Logan Belt's that day, but did not know what they were doing there. He did not see them either come or go away. Tom Leeper and Jas. D. Belt were there at dinner, but as the witness went home in the evening, he saw they were gone.
Witness did not know whether Hambrink tore the fence away or not. Belt was riding when he passed the witness going to Thos. Hodge's.
Matthew Ledbetter: Witness was commonly called Tobe Ledbetter. He did not know who killed Hambrink.. He lived two or three miles from Hambrink. Defense asked the witness if he was a member of the church. He had been, but the church had gone down. He had always attended dances, and did not think there was any harm in so doing. No one left before the dance closed that night but George Dale and his wife, that the witness knew of. The feeling between Belt and me was that of a friendly one at the time of the conversation had when I was at work for him. He did not remember whether or not he swore on former occasion; he was mad at Belt. He arrived at the inquest after sun-up. Joshua Hobbs told him about the murder. He was not at either Belt's or Hambrink's on the evening of the murder, but was at work in his new ground. He did not remember what Mrs. Hambrink was doing when he got there on the morning of the inquest. He didn't know that Hambrink was going to Germany. Mrs. Hambrink told him that Luke and her were not on speaking terms. He did not remember swearing that she told him Luke was going to Germany. He did not know that Hambrink had money in the bank. Mrs. Hambrink did not tell him that it was. She did not give any reason for wanting her dower set off. Logan Belt said that "Up that path was where Covert waylaid me, and would have shot me had I come along then." Witness moved from the Hurt place to Alex Frailey's, and from there to the Baugher place.
William Frailey: I am a brother-in-law to Logan Belt. I was acquainted with Doc. Oldham. I was at Logan Belt's house the spring following the killing of Oldham, and Jonathan Belt, George Ratcliffe, Jim Belt and Earl Sherwood were there. I heard Logan and Jonathan Belt say they would get their men and kill off the witnesses against Logan. This talk was had between the house and the shop. Belt had guns and pistols in that shop. It was held as a blacksmith shop and law office. Jonathan and Logan said that all was now ready, and they would take their clan and clean up things. Jonathan was to go across the river into Kentucky and get his clan and Logan would gather together his men in Hardin, and, with the two clans united, they would make a general sweep of all the witnesses against Logan. I saw them scouting around, and they told me they were waylaying Covert and the Oldhams. Covert was a witness against Logan Belt. Logan told me that he had been shot at by the Oldhams, and that they were going to get their men and just wipe them out. I was present when Lucy Sterling's house was burned. I objected to going, but Logan said by God I had to, and that it was the only way to save my life. Harvey Hollemon burned the house. He went in and applied a match to the bed. Lucy was not there to burn her up in the house. Belt had the roads watched and two men waylaid to my certain knowledge. I know he gave men notices, for he had me to go to Shawneetown and put them in the post office. I have taken about six notices and mailed them to Shawnee. I don't remember who all of them were for, but two of them were for Luke Hambrink and Ewing Lambert. Belt's excuse for having the notices mailed at Shawneetown was that the parties would not know where
or whom they came from. Cave-in-Rock was the nearest post office of the parties to whom the notices were mailed. I lived a part of the time on Belt's place and a part on the Vaughn place. Belt waylaid for Covert and the Oldhams twice. He waylaid them one night at the Hambrink school house. Logan Belt, myself, Jim Belt, Geo. Ratcliffe and Manford Underwood were in that crowd. At another time, myself and Marion Belt guarded one road. At another time, Logan said that Covert was in the neighborhood, and that he wanted to kill him. At the east end of Belt's lane, Belt shot Covert and me both. At another time, the road was watched between Mr. Pritchard's and Ebb Dossett's by myself and Marion Belt. I came to town to get our subpoenas in Belt's and my own case the day before Hambrink was killed that night. I met B. Z. Jenkins at Peter's Creek coming from town as I went into town. I rode Loge's horse, and I got back to Belt's about sundown, and ate supper there. Belt had formerly told me, on the bank of the creek at Rock Creek church, that "Luke, the d--d old son-of-a-b---h, should never live to see another court to furnish money to prosecute him with." I ate my supper and then started home. Loge went out to the lot with me to catch my horse for me, as I had left my horse there as I went down in the morning, riding to Logan's instead. While assisting me to catch my horse, Loge proposed that I should go that night and burn Rock Creek school house, saying that it would raise a hell of a stink in that part of the county, and that he would lay it on the Oldham's. He said he had other men who would do it, but they had another job to do that night. He said they--Earl Sherwood, George Ratcliffe and Jim Belt--were going to kill that G-d d--d Dutch son-of-a-b---h that night, and pointed towards Hambrink's and that
his men were down there in the woods now waiting, and again motioned towards Hambrink's. He further added, "That they were men who never flinched, too". I told Loge I must go home and could not burn the school house that night. Loge then said that by G-d, one thing I had to do, and if I valued my personal safety, I had better do it, too. He said that I must go along the road whistling and singing, and if I met anyone to stop until I had passed them, and with this, Loge went off and left me and I went on home. I overtook Zed Jenkins about one mile from H's and rode with him as far as his house. I went on, and when I passed Buckhart's, I saw both Henry Ledbetter and Luke Hambrink there, but did not stop or warn Hambrink, as I was afraid to. I saw a man come into the road behind me between Buckhart's and Hambrink's, and that man was Earl Sherwood. I went to see J. R. Oxford the next morning. I never heard of the working at Ebb Dossett's. I was jointly celled with Logan Belt while at Joliet. I was sent to the penitentiary for shooting Covert. While there, Belt and myself were talking about the killing of the deceased, and Loge told me that what he did not do, he Had done. Belt had received a letter from home and some things in the letter aggravated him, and as we were talking of the deceased's murder, Loge again said that what he didn't do in it, he had done. Grindstaff and Belt both said they were in the same cell at Joliet.
William Frailey: I am brother-in-law to Logan Belt by marriage, he married my sister. I am 40 years old. I came home from Joliet about eight months before Belt did. I was at Belt's the evening of the murder; I had been to
town to get subpoenas for witnesses in Belt's case and my own. I saw no one outside of his own family there--there was Mary, his wife, and Margaret, Avary, Knocker, Jodie and Jonathan. I stopped at Belt's to change horses, and Jonathan was in the lane yard with Loge. I knew Hambrink was going to be killed that night. I heard the conversation between Logan and Jonathan in regard to killing witnesses, and joined the band to help do it, but went into it through fear and by force. I was with them only at times which I have spoken of to kill or murder witnesses. The reason I know the deceased was to be killed that night was because Loge told me so. The States attorney told me he would protect me from prosecution for anything relative to the killing of Hambrink if I would only swear the truth in this case. Well, he said he would do what he could for me if I would swear to the truth. I don't think I swore that he promised to furnish enough evidence to convict them if I told all I knew. He never said he would furnish me any evidence. I swore I shot Covert. I did it to save my life. I know I am swearing the truth now, and knew I was swearing false then. Surrounding circumstances then would not permit me to do otherwise, for I know that though Logan was in the pen, his bad men were left behind and were here among us. I don't think I stated that Belt had nothing to do with the shooting of Covert. I swear I know from my own personal knowledge that I was afraid Belt and his men would sometime waylay and kill me. I feel more safe now and no afraid to swear the truth; then, I was. No, the States attorney did not assure me that I was safer now, but the people have. They have got tired of this sort of thing. Why, the people in general, of course--all over the county. No, Logan Belt shot Covert and me both. Ile Dossett and
Henry M. Winders were both present when I talked with Jno. Q. A. Ledbetter. Defense then asked the witness if he had not been advised by the prosecution that he had not sworn quite enough but must make it a little stronger? He said he had not. Belt would not speak to him when he came back, and so he was, he said, of course, unfriendly. He had sent or written a partial statement to Sam Grindstaff--just a social letter, giving general news of the country and what Belt was doing. He wrote to him because the States attorney wanted to find out where he was at, he said. He did not state to Maj. R. W. McLowrie in Joliet that he knew that Belt had nothing to do with the murder of Hambrink or that Hambrink's own family and the Oldhams killed him. He felt more secure now than he did last fall, for then he felt that his life was in danger, and he thought he was yet in danger if the accused were turned loose. Did he understand the nature of an oath? He did. And the consequences of disregarding his oath? He thought the devil would get him. Did he not think the devil would get him anyhow for swearing lies? He said not, as he thought it was owing to circumstances. If a man had to swear a lie to save his life, he did not think the devil had anything to do with it. Could he tell them how people would know that he was swearing the truth? He said he did not know about that, and it didn't concern him, but that circumstances now warranted him to tell the truth. About six months before Hambrink was killed, Belt and himself had a little difficulty over a reaper, but only had a few words. He was not at Hambrink's house, but went straight along the road, and did not hitch his horse at Mt. Zion church, and, with Tobe Ledbetter, kill the deceased. He did not go to Judge Ledbetter's at 11 o'clock on the night of Thursday,
April 7, 1887, but he was there a little bit after supper. The State's attorney had been at his home only one time and that was in the spring of 1886. He did not tell Jim Oldham that the wife of the deceased had the dogs put up on the night of the murder. He told him he had heard it, but did not know how true it was. He did not get in the hogshead and shoot the deceased. He never wrote nor made his mark to such a document as appeared in the Golconda paper; he said he didn't tell Lewis Lavender that Luke's own family murdered him.
The following letter appeared in the Golconda Herald of the issue of October 10,1877: From Hardin county.--Cave-in-Rock, Ill., October 18, 1877.--Eds Herald--Understanding that one G. W. Covert, with whom I had a skirmish one week ago today, had gone down the river to some point, and that he reported that Logan Belt has shot me and also him, I wish to give the facts in the case as they occurred. I was hunting near Logan Belt's house when I was fired upon from the thicket, receiving one buckshot in my leg, two through the abdomen and two in the shoulder. A man ran from the thicket and I fired two shots at him. Covert's cane was found in the thicket, and blood trailed from there to Dr. Dunn's. Covert was wounded in the arm and cared for at Dunn's, arrested and taken to this place, where he escaped and went down the river. He probably took me for Logan Belt, as he, one year ago, plead guilty to being one of the parties who waylaid Belt. He told them that the spot where he had fired on me was one of their ambuscades. He broke jail and fled from that charge. Covert has a wife in this county, and, I am credibly informed, is married to the woman
he has had with him recently, finding her at Harrisburg, Ill. He is attempting to sell a forged note for $300 on John Flannery, a gentleman of Kentucky. He ran away from Indiana to escape punishment for larceny, and is known by all to be an uncommon liar. To use an old saying, he would rather tell a lie on credit than tell the truth for cash. I now hope to get well.
Attest: Jos. Lowry.
(The foregoing letter was sworn to be a forgery by both Wm. Frailey and Joseph Lowry.)
Joe Lowry: Witness knew and pointed out all the defendants; he was Constable at the time. A copy of the Golconda Herald was handed him, in which was the above letter, and he said he never saw any such document with Wm. Frailey's name attached, and attested by him, and said it was a forgery. He had heard a conversation between Logan Belt and the deceased at Robert Sheridan's in regard to a hound of Belt's that had been killed. The deceased said that the hound had been killing his sheep, and that he told Morg. Tucker to kill him, which he did; but that the deceased offered to pay for the dog. Belt said he wanted no pay for the hound but that there would be a future settlement with him. If he, Belt, found for certain that his hound had not killed Hambrink's sheep, that his d--d old hide would pay for it. This conversation between Belt and Hambrink was in the winter before the latter was killed in the spring. Witness said that, being a constable, he saw it. He identified the following notice
as being written by Logan Belt:
September 23, 1876
Mr. Hambrink, Luke--You are hereby notified to keep from your place of residence that Lucy Mellon, a prostitute woman, and Morgan Tucker, if you would enjoy life and property. We intend to have more virtue, morality and christianity in this neighborhood. Sir, bear this in mind.
(Signed) Regulators of Crittenden and Hardin Counties.
Witness thought Belt had endeavored to counterfeit, or, rather disguise his handwriting, but he said it was from the hand of Logan Belt, nevertheless. He thought that as a general thing, Belt omitted punctuation, and that sometimes he wrote heavy and sometimes a light hand. Nevertheless, his writing was always natural, and that a man well acquainted with Belt's writing could always tell it, even though he would try to disguise the same. Belt was a bad speller, he said, and he knew it was his hand from the shape of his small "d" as he made the same like a small "a". Witness knew that it was his hand from the general appearance, as it was peculiar and altogether different from the writing of anyone else that he had ever seen. He had seen Belt write a great deal, and he did not write alike all the time. He usually wrote a tolerable heavy hand, and this was rather lighter than he commonly wrote, but still it was his. Wm. Frailey and Jas. D. Belt had come to the residence of the witness with a note from Loge Belt, asking him to come to his house. Witness went the next morning and found Jim Belt and Tom Leeper there. Belt wanted him to go to Elizabethtown, with Wm. Frailey, with
a warrant for the arrest of Covert and take him to Esquire Henderson's for trial. Belt told him to bring him along the low water road around by Cave-in-Rock, about twenty-five or thirty of those d--d sons-of-a-b---hes would be on the high water road and would take the d--d old son-of-a-b---h away from him, and for the witness to take him the lower road. Witness told Belt he apprehended no danger, but, thinking that something was wrong, he did not bring Covert up. Witness returned from town to Belt's next morning and found Jim Belt and Tom Leeper again at Loge's armed with guns.
Joe Lowry: Nothing new was elicited, save that Covert's writ charged him with stealing a horse. Judge Stelle asked the witness if he did not understand Mr. Belt, when he told him to take Covert the lower road, to mean that if he did not do so, the Oldhams would take him away from him? Witness replied that he thought Loge wanted him to bring Covert along the lower road in order that he (Belt) himself might kill Covert, or have it done, as Covert was a witness against Belt. For that reason, he did take Covert to Henderson's. He did not know whether the notice presented to him was written with a gold, steel or quill pen, but he knew that it was in the handwriting of Logan Belt. Another paper was shown the witness, and that was also identified as being the handwriting of Belt.
H. M. Winders: Witness was acquainted with the defendants; he had been Constable, Justice of the Peace, and was now County Surveyor. The notice given the deceased, and signed "Regulators"
was shown to the wetness and identified by him as Logan Belt's handwriting. This was the same notice identified by Joseph Lowry. He had lived some two or three miles from Belt for several years, and knew him well and also his handwriting. He had given considerable attention to the Study of penmanship and had studied both Belt and Belt's handwriting, for Belt was a peculiar man and wrote with a peculiar hand--a hand that the witness said he did not believe could be imitated. He was well satisfied that the notice shown him was Belt's handwriting, but he thought that Belt had endeavored to disguise his true hand in this instance. He had surveyed lands in the Hambrink neighborhood, and had made a map of the surrounding vicinity of covering an area of about one and one-half townships. This map was at his office, but the court caused it to be sent for. The witness was then asked to take it and explain to the jury the exact surroundings as shown by the map, which he did, locating the various farms and their surrounding roads, etc., of the neighborhood. A second and a third paper were also shown to and identified by the witness as being the handwriting of Logan Belt. The feeling of the witness toward Belt was not the best, but his feelings would not influence him to swear otherwise than true. Belt and the witness had never had any unfriendly relations, yet the witness did not like Belt as a man and as a citizen.
Henry M. Winders: Witness was very firm and positive, and defense could not shake his statement. Nothing new much was elicited, save that Belt had a peculiar way of making certain letters--making a small "d" like the letter "a",
and that he made caps "B" and "L" in a peculiar style. Witness recognized the notice to Hambrink from the general style used by Belt, and told the defense that if they would only compare it with recent letters written by Belt, they would find the handwriting to be exactly the same.
Morgan Tucker: I lived on the place of Hambrink before he was killed, and I knew Lucy Mellon. The deceased showed me a notice notifying him to put Lucy Mellon and myself off his farm, which the deceased had received from the "Regulators," and asked me what I was going to do about it. is the seme notice shown me by the deceased. I heard a conversation between the deceased and Logan Belt about a note. The deceased would not let Belt have the note until he paid. About one year before the deceased was killed, I was living on Stone's place. I came home about nine o'clock one night and saw three men in my yard. They passed around the house two or three times and then came out at the gate and crossed the bridge near where I was hid in the gulley. They stopped on the bridge and held a whispered conversation. They had two guns. I think they were Logan Belt, Isaac Keeling and Wm. Frailey, and I think they intended killing me if they had found me. Stone lived at the old Hale place, one and one-half miles southeast of Belt's I think the note held by the deceased on Belt was probably a mortgage note. Belt asked the deceased if he was not going to give up the note, and, when the deceased refused ,remarked that it would not do him any good. I can read handwriting.
Morgan Tucker: I can read writing and can write. I write my name. The deceased showed this paper to me. I can make out enough of it to know it. My eyes were not sore at the time I saw the men on the bridge. They were within fifteen or twenty feet of me. I had a good view of them; the moon was shining. It was before the deceased was murdered. It might have been six months before, but it was sometime during the year before Hambrink's death. No one told me about who the men were. My eyes have been sore at intervals for sixteen years. I married Mary Delilah Jupin. Defense are all friendly with me except Mr. Belt. I don't call him my friend. I said I guessed he was. I now have friendly feelings toward Belt's person, but don't like his way. I think I offered to tell it last fall, but it was objected to. I had the deceased pay nine dollars to Loge Belt for me, which Belt claimed I had stolen, or its equivalent.
PROSECUTION AGAIN TAKE THE WITNESS
Morgan Tucker: Frank Hardin had been to a shooting match and had gotten his gun out to fix. I went on Sunday with Mr. Harding over to Mr. Belt's to get the gun fixed and Belt was not at home. Mrs. Belt told us Just to go to the shop and fix the gun. I sat down on the steps while Hardin went into the shop and unbreeched the gun; we were there about twenty minutes. The next morning Belt sent for us, saying that he was going to prosecute us for theft. We went over and told him that he was making a wrongful charge and that we were innocent. Belt said he would sue us if we did not pay him nine dollars, and that if we would set-
tle that amount on a note at Hambrink's, he would let us off. We did it rather than to have any trouble with him.
Jane Belt: I am living with my uncle, John Frailey. I am twenty-five years of age. I was living at home with my father when Hambrink was killed. Jim Belt, George Ratcliffe and Earl Sherwood were at father's house the day Hambrink was killed. They came early in the morning and remained until after twelve o'clock, noon, and took both guns and pistols away with them.
Father kept several guns, revolvers etc. around his house. After Jim Belt, George Ratcliffe and Earl Sherwood left, I noticed that all the guns were gone. Those three men were at my father's a great deal just before the killing. George Ratcliffe lived in the Roark house Just at the mouth of the lane. Bill Frailey came to father's on the evening of the murder. He got there about sun-down and ate supper there; he had been to town and had rode father's horse. My father and Uncle William stood at the gate after supper and talked awhile, and then went out at the gate. I went to bed about nine o'clock. I don't know whether the clock was right or not. They were not there when I went to bed. I slept in another room. Father was at home the next morning when I got up. Father went to work at Ebb Dossett's the next day and mother went along with him. Sherwood was at our house a"heap" of the time and frequently slept at the shop, as father had bedding there. Jim Belt, George Ratcliffe and Sherwood were there a great deal of the time and were out a great deal of nights. Sherwood did not live there all the time but the most of his time.
Jane Belt: I am not married; never had any children. My father cast me off, he said, for being too intimate with men. He cast my mother off for the same reason--I stood to my mother. I don't know exactly how long. I looked at the clock; I don't know whether the clock was right or not. I don't know where he was; he was talking with Bill Frailey. I knew William Frailey. The gate was not very far off. He didn't go away at dusk. George Ratcliffe lived tolerably close to my father's. Upon close questioning by the defense, the witness said that she thought it was between one-fourth and one-half mile from Belts to Ratcliffe's, but upon being pressed further in regard to the distance, told Judge Stelle that if he was very particular, to go and measure the distance and then he would know. Her father owned the place at that time. She thought Ratcliffe moved to the county farm. He was married when he lived on her father's place; had been married four or five years, she thought. Sherwood lived at her father's before he was married, and also again Just before the murder of Hambrink, but the witness did not remember just how long. He was there on the day the deceased was killed at night. Her father and Sherwood were very intimate, she said. She said she noticed her father and Frailey standing at the gate several times that evening, and guessed they must have stood there one hour and a half at least. It was not true, she said, that she had lived with a man in Gallatin County. She had not lived with John Norris in Gallatin County. He had taken her up there, but they did not live at the same place. Marion Mott had never drove her off. Her father had never talked to her about the way they had been living. He had, upon his return home, drove her off without
giving her any reason. She heard afterward that he said that it was because she had been too intimate with men, but that it was false. There was a law office in her father's old shop, and Sherwood slept there. Her father kept arms in there for Sherwood's use. There were two rifles, two pistols, and two shotguns. Witness said that her father kept hounds, and persons often came there and went hunting. Sometimes they would meet there and have a general hunt. Mr. Sheridan's and Mr. Lackey's folks sometimes brought hounds with them for that purpose. Mr. Sherwood had his washing done at her father's house a part of the time.
Thomas Leeper: My name is Thomas leper. I am acquainted with the defendants. I knew where Logan Belt lived when the deceased was killed, and have worked for him. I worked for him when he was sent to prison. I had a conversation with Belt about running off the witnesses in the Oldham case. I was sworn into the band by Logan Belt, near his house and on the right of the lane. Sherwood, Geo. Ratcliffe, and Jim and Arthur Belt were present. The oath I had to take was binding upon a man so as to force him to take the life of a brother if so ordered by the captain, Robert Sheridan, We were to ferret out the Hambrink murder. I told Loge I would like to see that done, but that I was a poor, ignorant orphan boy and had always had to work very hard for my living. I never had any chance to get an education. I said that I was not capable of assisting in the ferreting out of the Hambrink murder that there were smarter men than me to do that. Belt said:"By G-d, you are a man, ain't you?" I said,"Yes, in size." "Well," he said, "You can do as much as any man, can't you?" I said I could. Belt said: "By
G-d, that was enough." I knew it was a groundhog case. I knew then I had to join them or do worse. So I told Loge that if it would do him any good, I would join the band. Belt said he knew G-d d--d well he could make good use of me, so I joined them in fear of my life. Belt then said: "It is dark now, but I'll give you the signs and grips in the morning." We were to know who belonged to the band, when we shook hands with members, by the sticking of the little finger under the thumb. Another sign was to fold or draw lapels of the coat across the chest in passing, and if the person was a member, he would signify the same by raising his hat and passing his hand over the brow or forehead, as though wiping perspiration there from. If assistance was desired, we were to stick thumbs in each pocket, allowing the remainder of the hand to hang down outside and pass around a known member until we attracted his attention Then, according to his oath, he was bound to retire with us to a secluded spot where we could have the desired communication. Belt sent Bill Irby and myself to hunt and kill Covert. One day while passing, Belt stopped me to look at his fine horse. He asked me when me and that girl (my wife, then Mary Norris) were going to marry. I told him we were not going to marry that I knew of. He said yes we would, and that by G-d, he would set me up for keeping house to the amount of $50, and that much would fix me up nice. I had to go and kill Covert, and that he and his family would clear me of it. Another time, Belt and I were in the sinks hunting when we saw a man coming, and Belt said that if it was one of those d--d Oldhams, we would kill him right there. Another time Belt sent Jim Belt and me to Barker Hollow to watch for and kill Covert, who was expected along there that night. I told him I had no gun and did not want
to go. He said I did not need a gun, as Jim would do the killing, and that he just wanted me to go with Jim as company. I had on a new pair of Walker boots, and Loge made me pull them off and put on an old pair, as he said by G-d they could track me with them things on. Loge said he would go to Tom Hodge's and stay all night, as people would lay it on him and then he would prove himself clear. Loge took my boots and hid them behind the bookcase. After we started, I told Jim we would go down there, stay an hour or so and then return, as Loge would never know any better no how, and so we did. Covert was to be brought up to Henderson's that night for trial. Another time we went hunting, Loge gave me a carbine, but he and Jim both took shotguns, and he walked in front and Jim behind me. I thought they intended killing me. I was passing along the road once when Jim Belt and George Ratcliffe, who were up on the hillside lying behind a log, called to me, and, going up to them, I asked them what in the h--l they were there for. They said"to kill them a man". I told them they would play the d---l. They said I would see if Covert should come along. I was working at Ebb Dossett's the next day after the murder of Hambrink, and Jim Belt told me he stayed at Logan Belt's the night before.
Thos. Leeper: He was cowardly, and was made to go along with parties to waylay men. He had been a law-abiding citizen ever since he "hopped out of the Ku Klux Klan" (his own expression). He was not there as a hired or bribed witness for the Oldhams. He said he would not swear a lie for any man, and that, though he bore the accusation of waylaying men, still he
thought that was a different thing, as he was made to do that. He could neither read nor write. He was at Ile Dossett's on the Sunday before; he was not sent for, but just happened to go over. John Q. A. Ledbetter, Sam Grindstaff and others were there. The State's attorney was merely passing along and stopped to get his dinner, when he again went on. He did not say a word to him or in his presence relative to the trial of Logan Belt and others for the murder of Hambrink. The witnesses had not met for the purpose of talking over the Belt trial He understood the nature of an oath. He had never went to Belt's to work until some six weeks after the murder of Hambrink.
W. D. Taylor: He had known the defense nearly all his life. Sherwood had sworn him into the klan in a dark ravine below Cave-in-Rock. About seventeen men were present. Logan Belt had solicited him to join the organization about a week before, saying that it was to ferret out the Hambrink murder. This was, he thought, in May. Belt told him to go to the cottonwood trees at the mouth of Mitchell's lane, and someone would be there for the purpose of conducting him to the place of meeting. He arrived at the cottonwoods about dark, where he found B. Z. Jenkins and Frank Hardin. Geo. Ratcliffe came and showed them to the ravine. Logan and Jonathan Belt, Robt. Sheridan, Wm. White and Earl Sherwood made speeches to them. Jonathan Belt told them that devilment was going on in the county which the law could not reach, and that the purpose of this band was to hunt up and punish the perpetrators. The oath was to stick to each other till death, through all emergencies, and the penalty was death for di-
vulging the secret. They were to give notices to parties in order to scare them out of the country and then if they did not leave, they were to be taken out and shipped or other means resorted to. Signs and grips were to be used, which were given by the witness. They were to draw notes upon the various school treasures in order to obtain money for their various needs to purchase arms, etc. When they went to correct or punish parties, they were to wear masks and high topped or double-story hats, in which should be holes, and contain lighted candles. False faces were mentioned, but Logan Belt said he could not stand false faces, and that long masks could be used instead. False faces were suggested by Sherwood. If any had enemies, they were to be punished. The meeting was held in May, 1879, in Clay hollow, close to the Ohio River-some fifty or sixty yards from the water's edge,--a wild, deep gulch, with broken, dreary looking country surrounding. All present that night were sworn in. They had no light. Jonathan Belt said such bands were usually called, under ordinary circumstances a "Ku Klux Klan",but that they would style themselves the "Sons of Liberty". Witness said they were to meet again, but he did not like the proceedings, and did not meet with them any more. Logan Belt said that night they would have the Oldhams arrested for murder of the deceased, on suspicion, and also on minor charges. They would take them before Esq. Jacob Hess for trial, and W. S. Morris, he said would of course be there to defend them, declare their lives in danger and have a light guard placed over them. His (Logan's) men would be hanging around so they would have to use them as the guard. Jonathan Belt, who would be just across the river with twenty-five or thirty men, would come over to the Illinois side, take them away from the guard
and over into Kentucky, where they could be properly taken care of. Belt said he would have a prominent man of the band to swear out a warrant for their arrest. Zed Jenkins did not want to go into it, but Logan Belt said that the life of one man was nothing compared with the lives of sixteen or seventeen men. So Jenkins was sworn in. Wm. White said he had belonged to such a band before. The witness left the meeting accompanied by Mr. Jenkins, Logan Belt and Frank Hardin. He was at Logan Belt's afterwards, and Sherwood, Jim Belt, and Robt. Sheridan were there. Logan said they would hold another meeting and then decide whether they would give up and abide by the law or fight it out. Witness at that time lived on State road about one-fourth mile from Belt.
W. D. Taylor: But little that was new was elicited by the defense. Witness was led to attend meetings through misrepresentations to him of the object of the meetings. As Hambrink had been killed, Capt. Belt had his fence burned and afterwards his house burned, Jacob Hess had wheat burned and a number of crimes had been committed which the law could not reach, the witness thought that something ought to be done, but he said when he got there, he soon saw that their object was not to put down crime, but to commit new ones; that when Jonathan Belt stated that if any present did not wish to join, then was to time to say so, and when, in response to this, Zed Jenkins said he did not wish to join them just then, where upon Logan Belt jumped up and objected to Jenkins backing out, even threatening his life if he did so, the witness concluded it was no use to refuse and so joined them. But at the same time, he did not consider
it binding upon him as it was compulsory. He did not again attend their meetings.
B. Z. Jenkins: He was a brother of John Jenkins, ex-County Superintendent, and his father's name was Nimrod Jenkins. He had been to Elizabethtown the day before Hambrink was killed to pay his taxes. His brother John was administrator of his father's estate, and Mr. Renfro gave him some papers to take to him. His brother John lived with his mother. He met Wm. Frailey at Peters Creek; after speaking, Frailey asked him if he had been to town, to which he replied in the affirmative and passed on. He went to his mother's and ate supper there tolerably late. He passed Mrs. Lackey's, Mrs. Edwards', Art. Belt's, Ile Dossett's and Logan Belt's or near. It was about two or two and a half miles from Logan Belt's to Luke Hambrink's. Witness lived in the Hambrink neighborhood. Frailey had overtaken him when within half a mile of home and rode along with him until Jenkins' house was reached, when Jenkins dismounted and Frailey rode on. Their conversation while together was of simply a casual nature. Frailey asked the witness what he had been doing that he had not been home, and Jenkins told him that he had to go around by his mother's and that it had thrown him late. He knew the defense. He was sworn into an organization on the 7th of May, 1879. Bob Sheridan solicited him one day to meet with them on the following night for the purpose of ferreting out the Hambrink murderers. Sheridan began by talking to the witness about the death of the deceased, and told the witness that as he lived so near the scene of the tragedy, he ought to take an interest in bringing the perpetrators of the
crime to account. They were to hold a meeting the next night, and the witness was to be at the cottonwood clump late on the following evening, at the mouth of Mitchell's lane, and he would be shown to the place of meeting. The witness asked him who was going to meet there, and was told that ten or twelve good men would be there. Witness then said he would not go. Sheridan told him that he had better go, as a man had told him (Sheridan) to tell the witness "he had better come". The witness went. George Ratcliffe was there. Witness spoke of returning home, but Ratcliffe told him to wait a little while. Wm. Taylor came along. Then they went on around the corner of the field and met Robert Sheridan, who said, "George, show the boys down and I will come." They then passed on down below the Thomas place, where Ratcliffe stopped and gave a low whistle, which was immediately answered by Earl Sherwood, who came out of the brush and went on down with them into a deep hollow close to the river. They found several men awaiting them there. Logan Belt, Jonathan Belt, Earl Sherwood, William White and Robert Sheridan made speeches. Jonathan Belt stated the object of the meeting. He made the first speech, and said he supposed they all knew what they were there for. They were organizing in other places in order to rid themselves of bad characters who lived among them, and that there were bad men here. He thought there ought to be an organization here for the purpose of getting rid of them. He also stated that the organization was generally known to the world as a Ku Klux Klan, but that another name suited him much better, and that was that they should call themselves the"Sons of Liberty". They were to have a loose gown, with a cap for each, which they could slip on over the head, and which would completely cover the principal part
of the body. A high hat or cap should be worn, with holes in the upper story and small lamps or lanterns inside in order to frighten the people. These masks were also for the purpose of not being able to know each other when they should take out and whip a man, or hang one, as then each man concerned would not be able to tell what other men were there. He said that if they got into trouble, they would have that plea to get out on, for they would be so disguised from each other that no one member could swear what other member or members were participants in the crime. Logan Belt and Earl Sherwood made speeches to the same effect. They were to draw notes on township treasuries for the purpose of securing needed funds, as they said some would need arms, etc., who were too poor to buy them. In this way, they could be provided with all things necessary. They were all drawn up into line before the oath was administered, and Jonathan Belt stated that if anyone wanted to draw out, then was the time to do it. The witness objected to taking the oath and refused to Join them, but Logan Belt objected to the witness backing out, and said that the life of one man was nothing when compared with the lives of sixteen or seventeen men and that it would never do to let him off. So then all were sworn in. Earl Sherwood administered the oath, which was to the effect that "they were to stick to each other till death. They were to keep everything secret under penalty of death if any should rebel against or prove traitor to the Klan." They proposed to put the witness under a stronger oath after he had refused to join them, but finally swore him in with the rest. The witness was one of the men who swore out a warrant for their arrest on the charge of forming a Ku KLUX organization to the detriment of life and
the best interests of law-abiding citizens. The impression of the witness, regarding the oath he was compelled to take, was that it would be death if he told it. Witness stated that on the 23rd day of February, 1879, Wm. Greene came to see him, and told him that Logan Belt had sent for him, as he wanted to see him. He was at John Frailey's at the time and did not go, and then Jas. D. Belt came after him in the evening and told him that Logan said he must come. So John Frailey, Frank Hardin and the witness went over to Belt's. When they got there, Logan took Hardin out and talked to him and then the witness. Belt told the witness that he had a bad man under arrest, as he had, Belt said, been waylaying me, killing stock, etc. This man was George W. Covert, and Belt told the witness that he wanted him to help take Covert out that night. He said the witness could hold the horses while other men did the work. Work was understood, Logan added. Wm. Lackey came while they were talking, and Belt asked the witness how Bill Lackey would do, and the witness told him he thought Bill would do. Belt asked the witness if he would come back that night. Witness did not know whether Hardin remained or not, but said that Frailey went on home. When the witness returned home from the Ku Klux meeting on the river, he was accompanied by Art. Belt, Frank Hardin, Wm. Taylor and Logan Belt--the three former together and Logan Belt riding with the witness. Belt told the witness he was willing to drop his case and have nothing concerning it in the business. The only man he talked to the witness about having arrested was Covert. The statement of the witness was pretty much the same as that made by W. D. Taylor, their statements corresponding throughout.
B. Z. Jenkins: Witness stated that he did not know whether a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Covert or not, but Belt told him that he had him under arrest and wanted him to help take him out. Belt represented to them that the organization was for the purpose of punishing crime, as they said bad characters were coming into the county. Thomas Williams, James Beavers, Capt. Belt and others had wheat, fences, etc., burned and they must put a stop to it. Robert Sheridan was captain of the band. The impression of the witness when Sheridan solicited his attendance at the meeting and refused to tell him whom else would be there, but insisted on his going, saying: "a, A man told me to tell you that he said for you to attend the meeting," was that something was wrong. When Sheridan would not tell him who the man was that said he (witness) must go to the meeting, the witness at once drew the idea that it was Logan Belt. He knew Sheridan had been sent to him by Belt. Jenkins stated that he attended the meeting that night with no bad intent, whatever, and went simply because he was afraid to do otherwise. He wanted to find out what was going on and what was meant by the queer manuevering. Belt told them they were to punish the man who burned Tom Williams' wheat and James Beaver's hay, and if any had enemies, they were to be punished also. He did not know that a dance was to be held at Tobe Ledbetter's on the night that Hambrink was murdered. Oldhams' did not hold clandestine meeting or meetings of any kind. Jenkins had gone and told Thomas Oldham that they had better not stay a single night alone as they were in imminent danger of losing their lives, and that they and he often remained three or four of them together for self protection, especially of a
night. They expected almost any time, he said, to be taken out by the Ku Klux and all be killed. Witness was a traitor to that organization and they sought his life on account of it. Belt also wished to exterminate the Oldhams in order that there would not be much of a prosecution against Belt for the killing of Doc. Oldham. Defense asked the witness if William White, in his speech at the meeting, did not say that if the purpose of their organization was to ferret out the murderer of Hambrink, he was into it; but if it was to meddle in or ferret out little private matters, he was out of it--to which the witness responded that White had no such talk. He said that he had been waylaid and that two men had come to his house and threatened to shoot his little daughter if she did not tell them where he (Jenkins) was. Also, that guns were carried by prosecuting witnesses in order that they might if possible, defend themselves if assaulted by the Belt faction. The Hambrink murder was mentioned at the meeting below the Cave in connection with the burning of Williams' wheat. Witness lived southwest of Hambrink and did not pass Buckhart's or Hambrink's place that night. He saw Frailey before he got home one mile from Hambrink 's. Frailey came trotting up and rode the same direction with the witness for one-half mile. Witness lived one and one-half miles from Belt. Frailey was going from Logan Belt's.
Thos. Leeper: Witness was recalled just after B. Z. Jenkins. Belt had told Leeper about men that were in the Klan when he was sworn in. Belt had told him afterward that Zed Jenkins and Frank Hardin had skipped out, turning traitor to him. If he ever got a chance, he would
kill them both, and that by G-d he could take his gun and kill them just as free as he could kill a squirrel. Logan Belt had also told him that Ebb Dossett was scared pretty near to death, and, upon the witness asking why, said, "Let me tell you. He thinks he will be called upon to tell something; that something is going to turn up, and now, G-d d--n his soul, if he don't buck right square to the post, I'll kill him."
Avarilla Dale: Witness was known as RiIla Belt. Logan Belt was her father. Witness would be 21 years old the 20th of October next. Knew all the defendants. Was living under her father's roof in 1878 and 1879. Jim Belt, George Ratcliffe and Earl Sherwood were at Belt's on the evening of Hambrink's murder. They went away, and Wm. Frailey came by from town and ate his supper there. Frailey and her father were there when she retired, but she did not know what time it was. She did not know whether her father remained at home that night or not. Belt kept in the house two pistols, two shotguns, two rifles and a carbine.
Avarilla Dale: She slept in the kitchen with a younger sister. There were three rooms in the dwelling. She always retired at the first opportunity--"first chance she got" was her expression. Jas, Belt, Sherwood and Ratcliffe came to her father's sometime in the afternoon preceding the night of the murder of Hambrink, but left late in the afternoon. They were walking. They took guns away with them, but had not brought any with them when they came there. There was a room in the upstairs of the dwelling that was finished; the other rooms
above were not She went to bed before her sister Jane did. Her father and Frailey where in the house when she retired. Did not know where Jane slept. Witness had married when only 16 years old, and was the mother of two children. Did not remember Dr. Kane being at her father's on the evening of the murder. She was asked why she hated her father so bad. She said she did not know as she hated him, but he had not treated her right. She still could not say that her feelings were very bitter against him. When Mr. Stelle repeated the question, she declined to answer a second time, whereupon Judge Baker commanded her to answer the question. Upon a third demand by Judge Stelle, she told him that "it was none of his business". Question again asked and the witness then said " it was her business", which was the only answer that could afterward be gained on that question. She was at her father's once after he was arrested. He was arrested on Friday, and she went to see him on Saturday. She had never said to anyone that she had been told that those who didn't know any thing would have to be put in jail until they did know something. No one told her that. She did not know what would become of her. She did care as to what could become of her soul if she was to swear a lie. Her father and mother went to working at Ebb Dossett's the next day after the murder of Hambrink. Guns were kept all over the place. Belt, Sherwood and Ratcliffe got the guns in the house-downstairs.
R. J. McGinnis: I have not been present at the examination of the other witnesses. I am acquainted with the defendants. Some well, others not so well. I have known Sherwood since
1872. I had a conversation with Sherwood in Dr. Moore's drug store after the assassination of Hambrink. I was in Elizabethtown and, like all men, went into the drug store. Sherwood was drinking, and the doctor refused to give him any more for fear of exposure. Sherwood referred the matter to me, and Dr. Moore gave me the key to the back room and told me to do as I liked or thought best about giving him more liquor. I drew a small dram and Sherwood, before drinking it, sat it down and asked me if I was not in favor of law and order. I said yes. Sherwood then said, "We have an organization above for the purpose of ferreting out crime, as justice is very slow, and we do with them whatever our chief says. The order of our chief is supreme, and we do not turn them over to civil authorities."Afterward, while in attendance at the trial of Logan Belt in Shawneetown, Sherwood came to me and asked me if I had ever told the conversation as passed between us in Moore's drug store. I replied, "No, Sherwood, I gave you the benefit of being drunk."
Nothing new was elicited by the defense.
Sina Hambrink: My name is Francis Sina Hambrink. I am fifty-five years old. Luke Hambrink was my husband. Don't remember what year we married. Was always hard of hearing. I remember the circumstances. I saw Loge Belt that night; he came to my house an hour after dark, and told me he was going to kill Hambrink, Luke was at Buckhart' s. Never heard the pistol shot. I was in bed when Luke fell in the door. The noise awoke me. The door was latched and I made a light. The first I knew, he was killed. He slept in the new house with Peter, my son, and the hired boy, Sherman Browning. I had not told it because they hadn't asked me.
Sina Hambrink: I did not sleep in the room with Mr. Hambrink because there was no room, as he had hired help. We ate together--at the same table. Sherman slept in the room with Luke. I never went to bed until he come back from Buckhart's. I asked how the sick woman was, and he told me she was better and said he believed he would go to bed. Yes, I Bade him good night. I then went to bed. I had been in bed about two hours when I was awakened by the noise made by Mr. Hambrink falling in the door of my room. I guess it had been about two hours but I don't know. We had no timepiece. I think it was about eight o'clock. Luke was lying in the door on his face with his feet on the door steps. He was just in his night clothes--shirt and drawers,clothes he had worn all week. He had not changed underclothing. I pulled the pitchfork out from under his arm. It was not Sunday. I had Buckhart's two largest children and two of my own at home. None of the children were bleeding that I knew of. I awakened Peter to go after Charley Buckhart and Henry Ledbetter came first. Several others came; father for one. Jack Oldham was not there at all that night. I stirred up a light in the fireplace and felt of his clothing and knew him by his clothes. He wore home-made clothing that I made myself, and I knew them by feeling of them. I said I didn't go to bed until after hecame from Buckhart's. I didn't undress. I hadto be up and down with the children. I never undressed at all that night. Peter went to bed after the children did. Luke stayed in my room about one-fourth of an hour and talked about the sick woman. I did not go to his room that night. I did not go out on the porch with him. Loge Belt had been there that night. I did not tell him what
Belt said. I was afraid. I knew that if he was mean enough to kill my husband, he would be none too good to kill me. We were getting along well and pleasantly; sometimes quarreled some, but not much. He would sometimes get fretted and not talk much either to me or anyone else. I never hated him. I loved him, of course, or else I wouldn't have lived with him. When I wanted money, I got it if I called for it. I never heard or knew that he was going to leave me. We had never slept together since the new house was built. I had not slept with him for eleven years, as we did not have room in the beds for the hired hands without sleeping apart. Tobe and Henry Ledbetter are my brothers. Jim and Jack Oldham are my sons-in-law. George and Frank Dale were my sons-in-law. Yes, I felt kind and devoted towards him at the time of his death, and had no idea,when he bade me good night, that it would be the last time. I don't know whether there is any h--l or not. I don't know anything about that. I think there is a God. I think He will punish wicked people. Question: "Do you havea soul?" Witness: "What is that? What is it for?" Yes, I think I'll be punished if I do wickedly. I never done anything to myhusband. I did not kill my husband. I wouldnot be afraid to meet God and Luke together. I say it is true that Loge Belt was there that night. I expect to die, but I'll never be punished for that. Sherman got up when I called him and came into my room. I had one sick child, that was the reason I didn't undress, for I had to be up and down with it. The children did not awake till morning. The deceased never refused to let his children have money. He told me he had put his money in the bank at Shawneetown. He kept money in the bureau to pay hired hands with, etc. I don't think I was sworn at the inquest. I was afraid
to tell it. I never put the dogs up. There was a big hogshead there. I never saw any man get into the hogshead. I never had any revolver. I set the pitchfork up by the sideof the door. I got it out from under his arm. I did not know any better than to take the pitchfork out from under him. My sons-in-law never tried to get money from Luke that I know of. I don't know whether he ever let theOldhams have money or not. Bettie and Ida were in my room asleep. They went to bed just after dark. I never came down to see the State's attorney, but came down to see about getting some money. I never got any money from J. Q. A. Ledbetter. He never premised meany to swear.
Redirect: She came here to see the guardian of her children, Mr. G. W. Douglas, for money.
Sina Hambrink: She was subpoenaed on theThursday previous. She had been there since Friday boarding with Mr. Anderson. She had never consulted a lawyer about having her dower set apart. She did not authorize Tobe Ledbetter to see Logan Belt in regard to having her dower set off to her. She never consulted with Tobe Ledbetter in regard to obtaining possession of Luke's money. She got $1,000 of the money after his death.
Sherman Browning: He was working for Hambrink and was there the night he was killed. He was 21 years old. He slept in the same room with the deceased in the new house and next to the road. The road ran south of the house; two beds in that room, and the chimney was in the north. The old house faced the south; the stairway in the new house was next to the fireplace. Luke slept in the southeast corner, and
the bed he and Peter occupied was next to the old house. A bureau sat between the two beds. He heard the shot fired and saw a glimpse of someone going out as he raised up, but sank back in bed, until Mrs. Hambrink came running in and hollered for him. Luke had kept the pitchfork standing by his bed all the time he had worked there. Luke was lying on his face dead, in the door, when the witness had gotten up. Peter slept in the same bed and behind the witness. It was a three-tined fork, and the handle was partially broken off. It was in the county of Hardin and State of Illinois. Charley Buckhart came first and blew the horn.
Sherman Browning: He went to bed just after dark, as was his usual custom. He said Peter was sent to Charley Buckhart's by Mrs. Hambrink. She told him to tell Buckhart that Hambrink was killed. He said she just came to the door when she called to him, and didn't come in. He didn't think she was on the porch when Buckhart came down. The report of the pistol was about the room, and he saw the form pass out instantly. Peter and Browning arose out of bed about the same time. Some times Mr. and Mrs.. Hambrink were not on very good terms. He stayed there all summer and then went to Geo. Oldham 's. He thought Jack Oldham and Henry Ledbetter were there sometime during the night after Luke was killed. He heard Mrs. Hambrink and Tobe Ledbetter talking in regard to the money the deceased had in the bank at Shawneetown, some $2,400. He heard some talk of Luke going back to Germany, but didn't know very much about it. Defense asked him if this was not a week or two before the deceased was killed. Browning said he thought so, but hardly
knew. No lamp was lit in Luke's room, but there was a lamp in the old house when he went to bed. His stepmother was sick at Buckhart's, and he (Browning) moved her away himself with Luke's cattle afterwards. The deceased was killed in his night clothes. He did not think the pitchfork was under Luke when Buckhart came, but that old lady Hambrink picked it up and stood it by the door while Peter was gone after Buckhart. He did not think that either himself or Mrs. Hambrink were sworn at the coroner's inquests. Witness was 13 years old at the time of the murder. He didn't understand that Mrs. Hambrink told Peter to tell Buckhart the child was bleeding, but that "his pa was killed". He again said in answer to query that he had heard some talk to the effect that Luke was going back to Germany, but they didn't say he was going to take his money with him. He didn't know how long it was before Hambrink's murder. Sometimes they were in one house, sometimes the other.
Daniel Austin: He remembered the circumstances of Hambrink's death. He lived one mile from Hambrink and one mile and a quarter from Logan Belt. The evening Hambrink was killed, or the evening before, Logan and Jim Belt had passed his house coming from towards Hambrink 's. There was a by-path leading from Belt's to Hambrink's and through by his house. Hambrink's name was mentioned by Logan and Jim Belt in connection with the fence, but he did not hear any threats made that he remembered. Witness saw tracks of four men the next morning after the murder, the tracks leading across his garden, which had been logged just the afternoon before. Witness did not, at the time of first noticing the tracks, know that the murder had been com-
mitted. He said the tracks had been made late that evening or night, as he had erased all previous tracks by logging. These tracks went across the logged ground and across his opinion bed in the direction of Luke Hambrink's. It was between dawn and sun-up when he discovered the tracks. He did not hear of the murder until noon the next day. He was working the road, but stopped to view the remains of the deceased when he heard of the murder. He saw tracks in the plowed ground in Hambrink's field and some fifteen or twenty steps from the house. He heard others speaking of them and went to see them, and said they corresponded with the tracks made in his garden. The path then ran through to Hambrink's and by his house was a narrow brushy one. Witness also stated that the"Belt 40" laid between the farm on which he lived and Hambrink 's.
Daniel Austin: No threats were made to get me to swear this. No one has been at myhouse the last few days. Dr. Quillen was inthe neighborhood a day or two ago. I don'tknow who made the tracks. I said the trackswere going toward Luke Hambrink's. Belt saidhe had been to see about his fence; that hewas going to tear loose from the deceased. Iheard screaming and horn blowing early onthe night that Luke was killed.
Harvey Hollemon: I live in HopkinsCounty, Ky. I have been under arrest sincelast October. I know something about theburning of Lucy Sterling's house. Wm. Fraileyand I are the men who did it. Belt said if oldLucy was there, to
burn her up in the house, as he wanted to getrid of all the witnesses, and she was one ofthem. Belt sent Isaac Keeling and myself downto H. Belt's to run Covert out so he couldkill him. I buckled a big revolver to thehorn of my saddle in order to scare him away;we were to scare him off. Loge had BillFrailey and Bud Belt up on the hill by EbbDossett's to kill him, as he said Covertwould run up to Tom Oldham's for protection.Bud Belt has a brother named Jeff, I believe.I know Loge had lots of firearms. I workedfor him a good while. Yes, the house of LucySterling was the only house I was sent toburn. I am acquainted with George andMarcellus Ratcliffe. I knew Jonathan Belt. Ihad a conversation with Loge. He said he andJonathan had about seventy-five men and theywere going to wipe out the whole thing. Hesaid they would clean up the Oldhams and allthe witnesses while they were at it. That wasthe day before the house was burned.
Harvey Hollemon: He had been in jail ever since the last day of October. He was charged with burning a house and had been indicted, he said, for perjury, because he said he did not do all the hollering on the street while drunk. Lucy Sterling's house was about two and one half miles distant from Belt's. He had told no one what his evidence would be here on the stand in this trial. He said Mr. Morris had told him that it might be better for him to tell the truth as a witness here, but promised him nothing. He was not used as a witness in the habeas corpus trial last fall because they objected to him. He had sent for Morris to come and see him while in the jail. He wanted to know about his bond. He also acknowledged
to Morris that he had set fire to Lucy Sterling's house. He applied a match to the bed, and they would have burned Lucy had she been there. That was Belt's instructions. It was in the daytime. A thousand people, he guessed, had talked to him about his case. Yes, he said, at his boarding house he had talked with a good many about his case. Defense asked how it came that he was cared for so well, provided with a hotel, etc. Witness said they had a boarding-house connected with the jail. (Laughter) P. M. Pritchard had told him it would be better for him to tell the truth. Marcellus Ratcliffe had talked to him since he came up. But defense objected to him telling the conversation. Defense asked him how many times he had been hung. He said he didn't think he had been hung yet; he had not been hung in Kentucky. He had no assurance from the State's attorney that he would be given any quarter, no matter what his evidence was. He did not remember the number of persons whom he had talked with concerning his case, and refused to give them any satisfaction. Defense asked him if he was not aware he might be fined for contempt of court and remanded to Jail? He said no, he was already in jail. (Laughter) He said he had become used to it, and now felt pretty much at home in jail. He did not tell theSheriff about breaking Jail when he was put in for perjury, as he said he did not believe that was his business. He had gone to Judge Ledbetter on Thursday night previous to get a bond filled. The Judge told him that any time that the friends of the witness would sign his bond, it would be all right. He could either have his trial at this or the next term of court.
Samuel Grindstaff: He is 47 years old. He
was first acquainted with Logan Belt in 1867.He went to Joliet in 1870. He began to cell with Logan Belt late in the fall of 1879, and was with him till the latter part of 1880. He was expecting to be released from prison, and Logan Belt wanted him to go and marry old lady Hambrink. Belt said she wanted to marry very much, and he had tried to get Blades to marry her before he left Hardin. Logan Belt said that he wanted him to come down to Hardin and marry Mrs. Hambrink. Then he was to persuade her or make her confess that the Oldhams killed the deceased, and the witness was to get Jim Belt and George Ratcliffe to swear that she confessed it. If that would not work, to get Jim Belt and Geo. Ratcliffe to burn the barns of Bob Sheridan and Jonathan Belt. They would understand it, and then to lay it on the Oldhams and swear that they did it. He says he would give the witness his farm if he would "tack" the murder of the deceased upon the Oldhams. Belt said to "wheedle" her into it if it could be done, and, if not, then to force her to do it. Belt received Clandestine letters from George Ratcliffe while in Joliet. He would read them and then tear them up. He said he could depend upon Ratcliffe with his life. Witness had become acquainted with Belt in1867 while with Wm. Corlew. He knew Wm. Frailey. Belt sent for the witness and he went to see him. Belt told the witness that he wanted to make a clean breast of that thing--the murder of the deceased. He knew who killed the deceased, and that it was Wm.Frailey. Belt said he could stand it no longer, and had sent for the witness in order to tell him this. He said that he could swear that Frailey committed the deed, and he wished to write a letter, for publication in the "Shawnee Record" to that effect. He was behind on his subscription to the paper,
and that in consequence he could not perhaps secure the publication of it. He asked the witness to send one dollar for him to the editor of the aforesaid paper. Belt said there was an impression on the minds of the people in Hardin County that he killed the deceased. He thought, if he could remove that impression, they would readily sign a petition for his release from prison, which was becoming almost unendurable, he said. Witness gave the one dollar to the warden, with the proper instructions concerning the same, and he supposed it was sent, as he afterward sent me a letter with a dollar enclosed. Belt talked agreat deal about Ratcliffe; he said he would do anything. Once, upon receiving a letter, he said that George was weakening. Letters from Belt were introduced. Witness had seen Belt write and said he wrote those.
Samuel Grindstaff: Nothing new elicited, save that the people paid his expenses as a witness from Lemont, Ill., to the county capital, he not having the ready means at his disposal. Belt received letters from Geo. Ratcliffe all the time. They came in through what was known as the "underground mail". There were parties who would secretly bring in and take out mail. In response to questions asked, he stated that he had been convicted of murder and sentenced for killing Jesse S.Davis, his wife's stepfather. He killed him in open daylight at the store. He did not waylay or take undue advantage of him. There were witnesses to the deed. A great many questions were asked by Judge Stelle on this point, when the witness, becoming exasperated, said he was not aware that he was on trial for his lifef or a crime committed years ago, and for which he had, ere this'
paid the severe penalty. With the aforegoing remark, the witness declined to answer further questions on the subject. Belt claimed that Wm. Frailey killed the deceased. Frailey sent the witness a statement in 1884. He told him that Belt would make his statement at any time. He was at the Dossett's the Sunday previous. The State's attorney was there and had taken dinner. He did not remember whether Tom Leeper was there or not. The money to pay his fare here was sent by the people through Mr. Server. The money was not for any other purpose.
LETTERS BY LOGAN BELT
Shawneetown, Ill., Jan. 7, 1887.--Mr.Samuel Grindstaff, Lemont, Ill.--Dear Sir and friend; Just a few moments ago I looked out and saw strolling leisurely along the street, looking up for someone he knew, doubtless, and I raised the window and said "Berryman", for I thought I knew him. He flashed those gray eyes up. I said come up. Oh, no; I can't. Yes you can, said I; just come in through the hall right up and you will be let in all the same, for there were several friends in the jail, and the old man Blades also. So Berryman came in and had a leisurely chat with me. Among other things he said, this is the first time I have ever been in this jail. While Sam was here, I was here several times, but was not on the inside. Said I, "By the way, you could not tell me where abouts when I last saw you, so now I can tell you. You bet he had me to give him your P. O. address. Well, Sam, you did not answer my other letter. Don't suppose you wish to be annoyed with me...Well, that's all right, and I don't know of any use I could make of you in my trial, nor don't expect to try to have you, but they had made such a blow about me
having the same talk to
you about Bill Frailey, that I had to. I thought I ought
to have something to meet this infamous clamor,as it
might get up some public sentiment against me. However, I
am satisfied that if you know anything that will benefit
me that you may have learned from Frailey, you will give
me the benefit of it in due time." Myhorse and buggy
was standing at the fencewhen Berryman came in, and him
and GrantBelt got in it and started for home, so I sat
down to scratch you these few lines and to send you that
dollar you loaned me when I was in prison at Joliet. Sam,
I have got lots of friends in this trouble, but
Ledbetter's and Morris' surroundings make them truly
desperate, as well as the witnesses they are using.
Yours, with due respect,
I enclose $1 bill to you instead of a postoffice order, not knowing your chance to cash it.
Shawneetown, Ill., Feb. 11, 1887.--Mr.Samuel Grindstaff, Lemont, Ill.--Dear Sir, I received a letter the other day from Hardin County asking me to write you asking you to flatter this gang with knowing something, and that he would insist on old Ile Dossett sending you money to come on, and that he might get you on the stand, etc. I wrote him that I would submit the question to you, and that if you thought favorable of the matter, you might play it on them. They have got you on the indictment as I wrote you before, and some of my friends seem to think they will make no effort to get you and try to continue on your account, but I don't see how they can with your statements here on paper. We have kept your letters all quiet. There isn't one that knows we know where you are unless Grice has told them. Have they
subpoenaed you yet? They
subpoenaed all their witnesses in the county a month ago.
Has any of them written you yet? Your statement that you
had Bill Frailey's written statement, made to you in
1884, concerning the Hambrink murder, caused us to keep
your letter still,as you said you would give it to the
public at the proper time. Court is going on here. They
are into a murder trial now--E. D. Youngblood for the
defense and Kinsall, county attorney and F. M. Youngblood
for the prosecution. I was out in the court and stayed
one-half day and listened at them; then was up to
Pillow's office, met old Uncle Bill and stayed until 10
o'clock in the night. I want to go out and hear the
argument in this present trial if my health will admit. I
am in very poor health at this time. I would have written
you some days ago had my condition been such. Let me hear
from you. Say what you know or think about this matter.
Yours, with respect,
Sarah Greene: Her name was Sarah Covert. (Here defense objected to the witness, saying that she was called to the stand under a different name. But her papers of prosecution revealed the fact that she was endorsed under both the names.) She had testified in habeascorpus trial before McCartney. She lived in the shop on the hill of the Belt place the year the deceased was killed, or in 1879. Logan Belt told her in the afternoon of theday before the killing that he was going to kill the deceased. That the d--d old Dutch son-of-a-b----h should not live any longer to furnish money to prosecute him on. Belt wanted her to swear that he had stayed at her house and clear him. She
told him she wuold. He
afterward came back and told her he had killed the
deceased, and that he now expected her to do as she had
promised. She told him that she could not do it, as Frank
Hardin and his wife, and JesseLowry and his wife were at
her house that night and she could not do it. Logan said
if you ever tell this I will kill you. Frank Hardin and
his wife went home at 11 o'clock that night. He had been
playing the violin, but Jesse Lowry and his wife remained
Sarah Greene: Simply a
repetition of the first statement. Wm. Frailey had
written some two or three letters to her while at Joliet.
A letter was presented to her, asking if she wrote it,
and she said "No," but Stelle told her to look
at it and see whether or not she wrote it, before being
so positive in regard to it. She replied that she knew
she did not write it as she could not write. She did not
have a letter written which closed as follows, "Ever
your friend and lover till death. From Sarah Greene to
Wm. Frailey, under the date of November 2nd, 1883."
She did not have a letter written in which was found,
"in your absence every day seems a week and every
week a month and every month a year." She never
agreed with Frank Hardin to swear him out of the murder.
She had heard from him since, and he was then in
Missouri. She expected to be alone on the night of the
murder, and would have sworn false for Belt if she had
only been alone, but as it was she could not do it. She
would have been afraid to do otherwise, she said.
Thomas Scott: He was acquainted with Logan
Belt, but not the deceased. Belt told the witness that he had earnestly and fervently prayed for the death of the deceased, and that he conscientiously believed his prayer would be answered. This was in September, 1878, before the death of the deceased in the following April. Witness had stopped at Belt's to inquire concerning a horse that had strayed, and which the witness was hunting, and which Belt had formerly sold to a Mr.Clark, of Golconda. He remembered Belt's trial at Shawneetown. Belt told the witness that the deceased was furnishing money to prosecute him (Belt) with.
Thomas Scott: He was at
Belt's in 1878 hunting a horse. Belt said there was a set
in the sinks that would do anything to occasion his
downfall. Witness said that his father's name was Freeman
Scott, and was now living near Carrsville, Ky. Witness
had lived in both Kentucky and Illinois, and had known
Belt since he was a boy. The father of the witness lived
at Ford's Ferry, Ky., when he first knew Belt. His father
and Belt were acquainted, and Belt used to come over to
attend the horse races with his father. Witness was now
living in the sinks with his brother, George Scott. His
brother was hard of hearing--had been for several years,
and was 43 or 44 years of age. The neighbors of the
witness were Oliver Pearson, Hi Belt and others. Defense
then asked him if the Oldhams lived close to him. He
said, "Yes, but I never neighbor with them."
Witness knew Jim Oldham, Wm. Frailey and Ile Dossett. The
state had not paid him any money as a witness in this
trial, he said in answer to question of the defense. He
had told what he knew to Frank Riggs and Ile Dossett. He
had spoken to Belt
in passing. The
conversation with Belt, when he was hunting a horse, was
the last talk the wetness had with Belt. The witness was
36 years old. He was to get no money for making this
statement in this trial, but expected to pay out a great
deal on account of it, he said.
Ile F. Dossett: I am
County Commissioner. I know the defendants. I heard of
the death of the deceased. I was at Ebb Dossett's at a
working the next day. Loge Belt was there. We were
talking about Hambrink's death, and I remarked that
"I was very, very sorry." Loge remarked that he
wasn't a d--n bit sorry, for the reason and manner in
which Luke had treated him in his past trouble. I talked
with George Ratcliffe. Logan Belt afterwards asked me how
I would like to join or go into a crowd to ferret out the
Hambrink murder. I told him if it was composed of the
best citizens, then I was ready, otherwise, not. I
insisted the second time on Belt telling me who was into
it and who was going into it. He said, No,I would find
out who was in it after I got into it.
Nothing new was elicited by
Reese Lackey: I know the defendants. I was at Logan Belt's at a dance. Belt nodded his head to me and we went out together, and he told me they were getting up a Ku Klux Band to ferret the murder of the deceased. Loge said, "My lawyer, Bill Greene, told me this would be the instigation of me beating mycase with the Oldhams." He told me that the deceased had been furnishing the Oldhams money to
law him on, and that by G-d, every dog has his day. Me thought he would have his, as he intended to kill him. He told me at another time, a month or so before the deceased was killed, while we were hunting, that he wished the G-d d--d old Dutch son-of-a-b---h would come along, so that he could empty both barrels into him. We were at the time sitting upon a log back of Hambrink's field.
Reese Lackey: I had a conversation with Belt in our house, my mother's house. I told Belt if I was him I would discharge Bill Greene if that was his advice. I told Belt I did not wish to join his band, and he said, "If you divulge the secret, the penalty is death, and you are under as much bond as if you belonged." I can't say that my feelings are bad against Belt, as I have no ill will against the man at all.
H. M. Winders swore that he had seen a great deal of Earl Sherwood's handwriting. He identified the following letter received byTom and Jesse Oldham as being in his handwriting. On cross-examination, he said hecould identify it by the way he makes capital L's and K's, and the general appearance of the writing.
FOLLOWING IS A COPY OF THE LETTER
At home in all places, but more especially in Hardin County, Illinois.--Gents: As we desire to be friendly with all parties, we want in this epistle to warn you in the event of your attempts on our own 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 abovenamed 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 home, who
richly merits 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 are hungry. Beware! 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 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 mori, And now farewell. From your only
friend on this lower footstool.
A CITIZEN OF THE ABOVE NAMEDPLACE Addressed: Thomas and Jesse Odum
Nancy Lackey: I know Loge Belt. I lived one mile and a half from Loge Belt. Belts tayed at my house all night. I went out of the room, and when I came back, I heard Belt say, "Oh, G-d d--n his old soul, I will kill him." I asked him who it was that he was going to kill. He
Hambrink, G-d d--n his old soul." I said, "You
will kill a mighty good man." Loge said, "Sina
and me are going to kill him. We have been plotting for
three years to kill him. Henry and Tobe Ledbetter are
carrying the news. Oh, G-d d--n him, I'll kill him"
I was at Belt's after that time to get my pay for corn he
had bought of me. This was about one week after the
killing. Loge invited me to get down saying, "Mary
is not at home, but get down, anyhow. I sent her out this
morning to ascertain whether or not she could get any
news concerning the killing of old Hambrink ."
Nancy Lackey: Age 68.
Born in North Carolina. My name was Davis before I was
married. I have known Belt since he was a small boy. He
has lived in different places. I think he was a bad boy.
I came here in 1830. I remember hearing of the
circumstance of the killing of Doc Oldham. I don't know
whether Belt moved between the killing of Oldham and
Hambrink or not. Belt had been passing around there with
the boys. This conversation was about three weeks before
he killed the deceased. Reese was there. Belt frequently
visited my house and stayed all night. That time he came
in the fore noon, went up into the bend and did not get
back till late in the evening. He stayed all night, and
the next morning went fox-hunting with Reese. It was
before starting the next morning that he had the
conversation. Reese was just stepping out of the room as
I came in. I had been in the other room making up the
beds. I never told this to anyone because I was afraid. I
don't swear that he came there because I was
good-looking. I presume it was because he was a neighbor.
He did say in the conversation the
morning I went to his house that the Oldhams were going to charge him with the murder. He subsequently said that he had sent Mary (his wife) to see if anyone suspected him of killing the deceased; that if they did, he was a goner. He said he had not been off the place. He has not paid me for my corn yet. Belt did say that he was going to kill the deceased because the deceased would not allow his family any privileges, and because he was furnishing money to the Oldhams to prosecute him with. I have had one or two sick spells. I was not present at the killing of the deceased.
Thomas Oldham: I knew Logan Belt. I knew the deceased. I received this paper (same as printed in the last issue addressed to Thomas and Jesse Oldham) by mail. It was mailed at Salem, Ky. I lived near Cave-in-Rock when the deceased was killed. I lived three-fourths of a mile from the deceased when Doc Oldham was killed. I did not see Elisha Oldham for some days after the deceased was killed. Did not see Elisha Oldham have considerable money after the deceased was killed. Don't know about Elisha Oldham having his clothes out the next morning after Hambrink was killed. Did not say to Dan Austin that "By G-d, I have convicted him again" just after preliminary examination. Did not make any statement of the kind to Dan Austin. I know Mrs. Rittenhouse. I did not say to her last fall at her house that "Tobe Ledbetter had admitted enough to me to break his neck." Question: "Did she say: Don't you think Tobe Ledbetter and Mrs. Hambrink know who killed the deceased?" Answer: I don't know whether I said I don't know or not. I did tell Mrs.Rittenhouse that I was satisfied that Tobe Ledbetter and
Mrs. Hambrink knew who killed the deceased. Tobe Ledbetter never did tell me who killed the deceased. Doc Oldham was a brother of mine. I was a witness against Belt in his case for killing Doc Oldham. Lucy Sterling was a witness for the people. I don't know whether she was used by the defendant or not. I can't read writing. I can't write. I lived about six miles from the deceased when he was killed. I know there was a subpoena ordered for him, for I ordered one out for him myself, but do not know whether it was ever served or not. My feelings are very bitter against Belt. I heard of the kiIling of the deceased. I was at home that night. The deceased never furnished me any money to prosecute Belt with. I don't know that he was ever asked for money for that purpose by anyone. I received the letter just before Luke's death. James is my brother. Jack is my brother. I did not pay the cost of prosecution.
Jane Condit: I know Loge Belt. I heard Logan Belt tell Reese Lackey that the deceased was loaning the Oldhams money to prosecute him on, and he intended to kill him. This was in January, 1879, before the deceased was killed in April. Belt and Reese were on the porch. I was in the big room washing the dishes and Mrs. Lackey was drying the dishes. My name was Clark. Mr.Clark was not dead. I was a grass widow. Zed Jenkins and John Norris are my second cousins. My hearing is bad now. My hearing was not bad then.
Nothing new was elicited by the defense.
John Lane: I am acquainted with all the
defendants. I am related
to some of them. Loge Belt is an uncle of mine. Mr. Belt
sent Isaac Keeling to see me. Ile came and said Belt
wanted to see me. Belt said he wanted someone to get on
the road and kill Morgan Tucker. This was in the night.
Isaac Keeling heard Belt's statement.
John Lane: I am 40 years old. My father's name was Carroll Lane. I have 5 sisters. I now live on the deceased's place. At the time of the Hambrink murder, I was living in the sinks, two or three miles from Cave-in-Rock. At the time Belt came to me, I was living on the Hurt place one-fourth mile from the deceased's. I can't state whether I had gone to bed or not. Belt said he wanted someone to get out on the road and kill Morgan Tucker. I went to Ike Keeling's that night. The next morning I went home. This was a year, or maybe longer, before the deceased was killed. One house stands with its side to the road, and one with its end to the road with porches in front. I have my opinion who killed the deceased. I told Belt I had nothing against Tucker and would do nothing of the kind. They were armed. I did not know but what they had a load for me. Tucker had gone to church. The road was near the church. Belt went back to his house. I went toKeeling's. I don't remember why Belt did not go and kill Tucker himself. I don't know whether I have given all the conversation with Belt when we went to him that night or not. Belt had a shotgun. There has been no change in the places. The road is running east and west past there. The house is on the north side of the road. I don't know which room the deceased and his wife occupied, only just what I have been told. The
porch is some longer than the width of the floor. It may be five, eight or, perhaps, twelve inches . I have lived there two years. I am his tenant. John Q. A. Ledbetter owns the premises. I can't tell when I first told this. Isaac Keeling and I first talked about it; then I talked to Mr. George Douglas about it. It has been two, three or perhaps more years, but it was not since Belt came back. I think though, I told Mr. Douglas before Loge went to Joliet. Mr. Douglas lives up there. I was not the administrator. I was one of the heirs. There was no administrator on my mother's estate. Mr. Belt never claimed that we owed him some money. I can't say positively that I told that we owed him some money. I can't say positively that I told anyone else. I lived on Belt's place a short time--some six months. I made a crop on his place. I rented from his wife. I think Tom Oldham had some wheat on the place. I think I told Mr. Pritchard, and might have told someone else. I never told anyone that Bill Frailey killed the deceased. I have known Frank Tolbert for a good while. I have not been actively engaged in this prosecution. I have talked to the State's attorney. I never told Frank Tolbert that "we had combined together to break Loge's neck, and that we intended to do it." I never told him anything of the kind. I never told anyone that I would kill Loge Belt. I never said I was a d--n fool or I would have killed Belt last spring. I remember Frank Tolbert being at my house and what he was there for. Tolbert said for me to go with him. I never told him to not talk to Jack Oldham, for he was getting d--d badly scared. I never said that Bill Frailey stood in Hambrink's door. I didn't know how the ball went. I heard how the ball ranged. Mrs. Hambrink has been living with her sons-in-law, the Oldhams, since last fall,
prior to that she had been living in Kentucky. I say I never told Tolbert that Frailey shot the deceased nor pointed out the place from where he was shot. I know Dal Belt. He is a cousin of mine. He was at my house during ice last winter. We had no conversation in regard to the murder of the deceased. Marion Belt has never been in my house for a long while. I never said to Dal Belt that I had said too much to FrankTolbert. Frank is my cousin. He married a Mott. I came in here once with Mrs. Hambrink. Jack Oldham brought her in. I don't know whether she came to see theState's attorney or not. It was two or three months ago.
Redirect: Judge Ledbetter has not been at my house since last wheat-threshing time. He never said he wanted to convict anyone at the expense of another.
Isaac Keeling: I know Logan Belt and the other defendants. I am related to Belt by marriage. John Lane is my brother-in-law. I never was sworn into or even solicited to join an organization. I was before the grandjury. Logan Belt, John Lane and myself were together one night. Belt said he wanted Tucker removed. It would be a very suitable place up there in Brigg's field. He proposed to us to go up there and shoot Tucker. If that woman, Lucy Sterling, was along with him, why, G-d d--n it, it wouldn't make any difference. Belt said that the deceased was keeping a heap of trash around him, and that Tucker was a bad man. I wouldn't say that I didn't have a gun. I don't remember that Lane had a gun. We were on a path between Mrs.Greene's and the Hurt place. We were one mile from the big road. Belt commenced the conversation. He said Tucker was keeping company with
bad women. I didn't want to kill Tucker.
Isaac Keeling: I don't
remember whether I went after Lane. I remember we were in
company together. I was cultivating a part of his farm. I
don't remember whether I had a gun. I don't think I had a
team. I think I went to see about some hogs. I never had
anything against Tucker. It was about one-half mile from
the road to Mt. Zion church. I think Mr. Belt commenced
the conversation. Ile said Tucker was a bad man . I am
repeating his words. It seemed as if he wanted someone
else to kill him. Loge proposed that John Lane and I go
and kill Tucker and not stand back because the woman was
along, as that wouldn't make any difference. I never told
it until I told it to the grand Jury. I never waylaid
Tucker's house with anybody, never waylaid the road to
kill Covert, never got under a bridge to kill Mr. Tucker,
never waylaid the road to kill anyone.
Redirect: Was never with Bill Frailey and Loge Belt about Mr. Tucker's premises.
Jesse Lowry: I know
George Ratcliffe. I knew the deceased. I heard of the
murder of the deceased. I saw Geo. Ratcliffe there by a
spring where the deceased watered his stock. Ratcliffe
was reclining in a half-sitting posture, with a shot gun
in his lap and two revolvers buckled around him. He was
almost lying on his back. This was in the fall, some time
near October, before the deceased was killed in the
following spring. I was at Mrs. Greene's home the night
the deceased was killed--me and my family, Frank Hardin
and his family and Mrs. Greene 's family.
Jesse Lowry: I saw
Ratcliffe there in the fall. All he said to me was,
"Where does Joe Lowry and Frank Hardin live?" I
was sworn in the habeas corpus trial. I told all they
asked me. I told about seeing him out there last winter.
I told Tom Oldham, Joe Lowry and John Lane. I was not
particularly afraid of him. If it had been asked me, I
could have told it. I have not learned that it was
important to swear this. I have not learned that it is
important to convict these defendants. I lived with my
mother-in-law. They (Frank Hardin and his wife) came
there that evening and stayed till nine or ten o'clock
and then went home. My mother-in-law lives three-fourths
of a mile from Hambrink's. He left between nine and ten
o'clock. I would not be willing to swear that, if the
deceased had been killed at twelve o'clock, I would be
equally as willing to swear that he left there between
twelve and one o'clock. Frank and I are own cousins.
Frank left sometime after the deceased was killed. It
was, I think, about a year after the murder of the
deceased. I don't know where Frank Hardin is. I never
heard that he was suspected of having something to do
with the murder of the deceased.
Redirect: I do remember that Frank Hardin was a witness. I believe Mr. Belt claimed at first to stay at Mrs. Greene 's. I was only called to colloborate Mrs. Greene in her statement.
William Greene: I know these defendants and I know Loge Belt. Logan Belt swore me into the organization, just below where we lived, in the daytime. I was at home on the night the deceased was killed. Frank Hardin and his wife
were at our house that
night and they remained until ten or eleven o'clock. I am
the son of Sarah Greene. Logan Belt was about my mother's
David B. Shoemaker: I
knew the deceased. I lived about one mile from him. I
know Logan Belt. I was present and heard a conversation
between Belt and the deceased in which Belt accused the
deceased of killing his dog. Mr. Belt told Luke he would
kill his dog if he had to go into his yard to do it.
David B. Shoemaker: Belt
told thedeceased that he would settle with him for it.
This conversation was had at a trial at Robert
Charles Buckhart: I was
living on Luke Hambrink's place when he was killed about
one fourth mile distant from Luke's residence. I was at
home sitting up withMrs. Browning on the night of the
murder. Henry Ledbetter and his wife, Wm. Browning and
Luke Hambrink were all there until between eight and nine
o'clock. I was lying in the cradle asleep when the old
man left.When I got there, the gate was open. I blew the
horn as soon as I got there. Peter had come after me and
told me to run down there as my boy was lying on the
floor bleeding, and that "she" thought he was
dead. I saw Sherman Browning and Mrs. Hambrink. I asked
her about the child. Sherman was standing on the porch.
She told me there was nothing the matter with
the child. She was
standing midway between the door and the fireplace.
Charles Buckhart: The
first man that came there after I got there was Henry
Ledbetter. Jim Oldham was there that night. He got there
a short time after Henry Ledbetter did. There was blood
on the prongs of the pitchfork. I don't know which prong
it was. It was a homemade door. The deceased's clothing
was lying by the side of his bed. I saw blood under the
water shelf. (The blood, as the witness laid it off to
the Jury, was at the corner of the water shelf next or
nearest to the house.) The blood was about eight feet
from her door. The clothes he had on looked like clean
clothes. His underclothing was lying by the bed where he
usually slept. She said he came in and called for them.
The ground slants a little toward the road. The porch is
about a foot higher than the ground. The deceased had a
black and a brindle dog. I did not see the dogs. The gate
was made of lathing. I do not know who killed the
deceased. The young dog was a brindle dog. I don't know
that. (This last was in answer to the question by
defense: "If Mrs. Hambrink had not put or fastened
the dogs up the evening of the murder.")
Jack Oldham: I married
Hannah Hambrink.I was at the dance at Tobe Ledbetter's on
the night of the murder. I started to Tobe's about an
hour by sun, and stayed there until about nine o'clock.
Nannie Hughes and Susie Oldham went with me to the dance.
When I came back from the dance, the folks that came with
went up to Charley Buckhart's to set up. They heard about the deceased being murdered, and James Oldham and Frank Dale came and told me about it.
Jack Oldham: I was the
fiddler and left there about nine o'clock. I received one
dollar for my services as musician. Those whom I remember
as being present at the dance were: George Dale and his
wife, Frank Dale, Joe Dale, Albert Oxford, Tom Norris,
Mike Price, Alex Frailey, and Tobe Ledbetter. It was
about dusk when I got there. I guessed it to be nine
o'clock when the dance broke up. Frank Dale - and me did
not meet Tom Norris. Tom Norris came along with me from
the dance. I got to the house of the deceased some time
that night; I can't say just what time. Henry Ledbetter
was not there. Charles Buckhart, Jim Oldham and Sherman
Browning were all there.
Question: Did you testify on the inquest that you met old John Ledbetter as you came from the dance; that your wife insisted on your sending for the doctor, and were you and your brothers not passing the shop at John Ledbetter's? Answer: Don't think I was before a coroner's jury.
James Oldham: I married
Hambrink's daughter. I was at Tobe Ledbetter's at a
dance. I left there about nine o'clock and went to Jack
Oldham's, and then started up to Chas. Buckhart's and met
old John Ledbetter and he told me Luke was murdered .
James Oldham: There was a
crowd of us
together several times.
Sometimes there were ten of us. We met most all that
summer until Loge Belt was sent up--that was in July.
Never heard before that the Oldhams were charged with the
murder. We stood guard for one another. I had one pistol.
It was six months before Hambrink's widow married Bud
Blades. There was no organization among us.We had no
captains. We just remained together in order to defend
ourselves if it became necessary. The family of the
deceased were not accused of murdering him. Mrs. Hambrink
came to my house and stayed a while. Jack Oldham brought
her to my house. It was between ten and eleven o'clock
when I got to the house of the deceased that night. I did
not murder the deceased. We got together to keep Loge
Belt from killing us. These other defendants always done
whatever Belt said. Zed Jenkins told me that the
organization was pretended to be to ferret out the murder
of the deceased, but that it turned out to be for
George Dale: I married a daughter of the deceased. I was at Tobe Ledbetter's at a dance the night the deceased was killed. I lived about one mile and a half from the deceased and about one mile and a quarter from Tobe Ledbetter's.
John T. Ledbetter: I was
at the coroner's inquest. I got there in after part of
the night. I did observe the door. The wooden latch was
broken; the door opened inside. The body was lying in the
door. From looks, he had been dressing. The bed he slept
in was in the southeast corner. Another bed was in the
southwest corner. A bureau sat between them.The stairs
were in the northwest
corner of the house. There were spatters of blood from
the new house to the door of the old house. Someone had
sat down on the bed he had been occupying. The clothes he
had pulled off were at the head of his bed. There was an
old cap-and-ball pistol that had been shot.
John T. Ledbetter: I went
there with my father and John B. Tucker. Yes, Oldham was
talking a great deal and seemed to be restless and acted
suspicious. The pitchfork was under him when I got there.
I don't remember whether she was sworn or not. There were
prints of the tines or prongs of the pitchfork on his
forehead. The ball struck the deceased in the breast and
ranged downward and came out to the left of the backbone.
Dr. G. W. Hill: I am a
practicing physician in this county. I have been
practicing eight years. I hold a certificate from the
State Board of Health. I was at the inquest and made an
examination to the wounds. The ball that killed the
deceased entered about one inch from the center of the
breast bone and ranged downward. I extracted the ball. It
came in contact with the arterial blood, having passed
through near the region of the heart, and would have
necessarily proved fatal. The ball had been shot from a
cartridge pistol, 38 calliber. This was in the County of
Hardin and State of Illinois and on the second day of
April, 1879. I think the ball entered on the left side of
the center of the breast and came out on the other side
of the back.
Dr. G. W. Hill: I
attended Evansville Medical College. The coroner's jury
had been empanelled when I got there. It was about eight
o'clock the next morning when I got there. It was not
more than one inch from the spinal column. The probe
would not go very deep. It would have necessarily been a
fatal shot whether it went in at the one side or the
other. The body was lying by the door. The pitchfork was
in the house. After an examination of the body, I was
sure he died from that gun shot wound. The ball entered
between the fifth and sixth ribs and came out between the
thirteenth and fourteenth ribs. My opinion would be that
a man would do as long as he could--what he was then
doing he would still do. A dozen different men shot at as
many different times would do as many different things. I
saw the pistol that was on the premises. The pistol had
not been used and was a cap-and-ball pistol.
Here the people rested.
TESTIMONY FOR DEFENSE
Robert McLaughery: I
reside in Joliet. I have been Warden of the penitentiary
at Joliet since July, 1874. I had Wm. Frailey in my
charge. He entered the prison on the 2nd of November,
1879, and was discharged the 2nd of August, 1883. Samuel
Grindstaff entered November 17, 1879, and was discharged
the 17th of February, 1882. Logan Belt was received the
22nd of July, 1879, and discharged the 22nd of July,
1885. Wm. Frailey and Belt were cellmates for several
months in the neighborhood of a year just previous to
Grindstaff and Belt were
together nearly all the time that Grindstaff was there. I
heard Frailey and Belt have two conversations. I heard
Frailey say that he knew that Logan Belt was not guilty
of the murder of the deceased. Belt said that there were
efforts being made to convict him (Belt) with the murder
of the deceased. Frailey said he knew that Logan Belt was
not guilty of the murder of the deceased. I was present
at a conversation between Grindstaff and Belt. Grindstaff
stated that he had been down here and said there was a
case being worked up against Belt. He had been talking
with Frailey, and asked me what I thought about it. My
recollection is that Grindstaff told Belt that Frailey
was against him and helping to work up the case. He did
not state what Frailey said. My recollection is that he
gave Belt one dollar. Belt said he was going to write a
statement to the people. I gave him permission to do so.
I gave Grindstaff a recommendation for a pardon, and then
gave him a special recommendation to the officers of the
Chicago & Alton Railroad. (Read three letters from
Grindstaff, check of National, etc.)
Frank Tolbert: John Lane told me that they had combined to break Logan Belt's neck. John Lane told me that if they failed in this prosecution, they would kill him anyhow and swear each other out. John Lane told me that keeping old Mrs. Hambrink so close, it would excite suspicion. He also said not to speak to Jack Oldham, that he would run off. All the witnesses were getting scared, and that he believed that Tobe Ledbetter would run off in spite of h--l. He showed me where the hogshead was which he said the deceased was shot from, and said Dill Frailey was implicated. John Lane told me that if I should betray him in this matter, he would
kill me. John Lane told
me that he was a d--d fool that he didn't kill him when
he was at my house. John Lane told me that John Q. A.
Ledbetter had been at his house three nights since the
trial and that he knew if he had killed Belt, he would
not have been prosecuted for it. On cross examination,
the witness said that he (Tolbert) had been indicted
James W. Evans: I live in Hardin County. I know Jack Oldham. I have known him all my life. Jack Oldham said, last fall two years ago, in the presence of Baugher and his wife and myself and my wife, that "had it not been for d--d keen swearing this poor body would have had to suffer for the murder of the deceased. But, thank God, d--d keen swearing saved me." On cross examination, Evans said, I was not a witness here last fall. He didn't say there had been any swearing at all.
Georgia Belle Evans: I know Jack Oldham. I am James Evans ' wife. I was at John Baugher's. Jack Oldham said, while at the dinner table, that "if it had not been for d--d keen swearing, his poor body would have suffered." I heard Frank Dale say to Jack Oldham that "were I them, if I could not get that money one way, I would another." It was three years ago this fall. On cross examination, the witness said: "I don't remember what year it was. I was the wife of Bill Buckhart when Hambrink was murdered."
Ellis Monroe: Hambrink was killed on the night of the first day of April, 1879. Elisha Oldham came to my house the next morning about daylight. He said, "Hambrink was killed last night," and he acted as though being very much scared. He had $60, and he said Jesse Oldham had threatened him and he had to get away. He said his clothes were hid out preparatory to
leaving. He said the
murder of the deceased was done in the family but would
be laid on Logan Belt. I heard two years afterwards that
Oldham was indicted for murder. I lived on Grant Belt's
place five miles from town. On crossexamination, Monroe
said: I live two and one-half miles from Cave-in-Rock. We
moved here in 1873. I was in jail here once. I broke
jail. I went home after I broke jail.
Redirect: The witnesses for the prosecution have not tried to intimidate me.
William Fries: I reside at Cave-in-Rock, I am a school teacher. I remember seeing Georgia Belle Evans and her husband, Wm. Buckhart, the next day after the murder of the deceased. Buckhart was going through the field in a trot, and the wife came after him and asked which way he had gone. He said he had left her. On cross examination, the witness said that he also saw George Ratcliffe that morning, but did not know which way he was going.
Claiborne Belt: I know Henry Ledbetter. Henry Ledbetter told me last summer at my house, in the presence of my wife, that the plan to kill the deceased was made at Tobe's own fireside. He did not say who laid the plan.
Addie Belt: Henry Ledbetter said that Tobe Ledbetter told him that the plan to kill the deceased was made at Tobe's own fireside,
William Hetherington: I live in this county. I have lived here ever since a few days before the deceased was killed. I boarded at Jas. Keeling's during the winter of '85 and '86. Henry Ledbetter lived in the district.
He told me he did not know who killed the
deceased, but that the
man could be found who could tell, and that he lived in
Kentucky. Tobe Ledbetter told him that the plot was made
at his fireside. I have been teaching school in this
county ever since the winter of 1879. On cross
examination, the witness said: "He never told me who
laid the plot."
Joseph A. Irby, Sr.: Jack Oldham was at the inquest. I was one of the coroner's jury that sat over the body of the deceased. Jack Oldham said he was at the dance, and that old John Ledbetter was the first one to tell him of the murder. He told me that after he heard the deceased was killed, he went home and would not tell his wife until she promised that she would not get scared. The deceased had two dogs that were pretty severe. The neighbors would not go in. I saw blood under the water bench within a foot and a half. Question. Did you see blood elsewhere? Answer: I don't know that there was not any other blood. I got there about three o'clock in the morning. When I got there, the body was all inside except the right foot-rather on his face. The pitchfork was standing by the door. He had three scratches on his face as though made by falling on the prongs of the fork. On the witness stand, Jack Oldham was as calm as any man I ever saw. He appeared excited to some extent, and exhibited such symptoms as any son-in-law would have done under like circumstances. The bed in the southeast corner had the appearance that the deceased had set down upon it. His clothes were at the head of his bed. I heard that he kept a pitchfork in the room. His wife told me that she drew the fork from under him. She stated that she did not know anything about who killed the deceased. There had been a wooden latch to the door; the latch was broken. There was a step
of eight or nine inches
from the porch into her room.
Joseph A. Irby, Jr.: I was at the inquest. All the blood I saw was on the door sill. The blood seem to have scattered. Mrs. Hambrink stated that she did not know how he had been killed . I might have overlooked the blood. I saw the bed. It looked as though he had sat down upon it.
Dallas Belt: I know John Lane. On the 7th day of March, at his house, John Lane said that he was afraid that he had already told Frank Tolbert too much. He asked me if I thought Frank would betray him. He said that if Frank did betray him, he would have revenge. I did not inquire of Dr. Hill if Tobe Ledbetter had given it away. James Belt swore he would not believe me on oath.
Jacob Hess: I am County Judge. I have lived here 25 years, or since 1851. I knew Hambrink. I knew George Ratcliffe at the time of Hambrink's death. Ratcliffe is my wife's brother. I knew where Ratcliffe lived. I heard of it the next day. I saw George Ratcliffe. I remember seeing him at sundown or after. I don't know whether he took supper there or not. He was there at breakfast. George Ratcliffe usually slept with the boys whenever he came to my house. The boys sleep upstairs. I sleep in the lower room. Ratcliffe lived within a hundred yards of my house. His wife had been out in the country where they had lived prior to coming to my house. I usually lock the front door. I don't think anyone could go out or come in without disturbance to me. Ira Curtis was there, and also Tom and John Norris and one of the Evans'. They were there in the afternoon.
I think he did. I would
not be positive that he did. My best judgment is that he
stayed all night at my house. He moved to my house the
fall before the deceased's death. I had no land and had
just rented a house to live in. I saw him the next
morning before breakfast. Jim Belt had sued Sherwood for
fifty cents. On cross examination, the witness said:
"I am not positive that Ratcliffe stayed all night.
I don't know where George Ratcliffe's wife was.
Elizabeth Hess: I am George Ratcliffe's sister. I am the wife of Jacob Hess. I heard the next day that Hambrink was killed. George Ratcliffe came to my house in the morning. Ira Curtis was at my house playing the fiddle. George went up and cut up the wood. I did not cook supper, as we had a late dinner; Tom Norris was working at our house. He went to the dance that night. I couldn't say what time of the night they went to bed. On cross examination, she said: "I know he did stay at my house that night. He lived only a short distance. He had moved there the fall before. I think he moved to Logan Belt's place in May after that. George is 33 years old. Jim Belt was a brother-in-law of George Ratcliffe. I don't know whether it was at supper time. I don't know when he went to bed. I don't know where his wife was. I think he moved there the fall of 1879. The reason I can remember well is because of the talk about the Hambrink murder. Tom Norris came late in the evening.
Ira Curtis: I am a fiddler. I was at Judge Hess' about that time. I was playing the fiddle. There was a man came there whom they said was George Ratcliffe, about that time. I am not certain about it. I know Tom Norris. I know Evans. Evans and I went there together,
and then went away
together. Ratcliffe and Evans were dancing around. I did
not hear of the dance. I had been following farming
mostly. I have been milling since. I heard of the death
of Hambrink about a week after. I could not tell who I
did see. I went to Ford's Ferry and stayed there about a
week with John Tolbert.
David Evans: I did not know the deceased. I heard of his death; I don't know how long afterwards before I heard of it. I heard it in three or four days afterwards. I think I was at Judge Hess' with Ira Curtis, but I don't remember. George Ratcliffe, Mr. Hess, and I believe one of the Edwards boys were there. Hess and Curtis played the fiddle. I know Ratcliffe. I left him at Hess' about 3 or 4 o'clock. On cross examination, the witness said: ''I lived 3 miles below Cave-in-Rock, with my father. We Just stopped in at Hess'. I don't know how I came to be subpoenaed. I have not talked with Ratcliffe a great deal. I saw him yesterday. I don't know what day it was. I don't remember when it was. I heard of the murder shortly afterwards.
Cordelia Mott: I know Sherwood. He married my sister. I don't know the deceased. I heard of his death directly afterwards. Sherwood was at my father's, H. J. Belt's. My husband and I went up there. It was the first time we had been there since we were married. My sisters and brothers, my husband and I, and Sherwood and his wife, were all at my father's. We went to bed between 9 and 10 o'clock. When we got there, they told me that Ma and Pa had started to Kentucky about twelve or one o'clock. Sherwood and his wife had been living on Father's place a year. Sherwood lived at my
father's one year before
he and my sister were married. Yes sir, I learned
afterward that it was the same night that the deceased
was murdered. It is six miles to Hambrink's from my
father' s. Sherwood arose the next morning between 4 and
5 o'clock. I don't remember whether he was there all the
next day or not. I guess it is six miles to Hambrink's. I
got there about an hour by sun. We stayed, and Sherwood's
wife and I went to bed. I don't know the day of the week,
the month or the year. I don't know whether my husband
was sworn into an organization or not, but I heard that
John L. Mott: The witness corroborated the statement made by his wife, and on cross examination said: "Cordelia Mott is my wife. I was not out of the room after I went to bed. I know it was the night the deceased was killed. I think Sherwood went to the Cave the next day. It is about 5 miles from Hi Belt's to the deceased's. Pearson's folks were the first I heard speaking of the murder. Sherwood swore me into that organization in May. He administered the oath to me at H. J. Belt's house. We were pledged to each other by the oath. I had heard it talked that Uncle Logan was suspected of the murder of the deceased, and that the Oldhams were also suspected."
Rosetta Hess: Hiram Belt is my father. I know Sherwood. He was my brother-in-law. Ellen Belt is my mother. Lucinda Belt is my sister. Cordelia is my sister. I don't remember the time. I didn't know the deceased in his lifetime.Those I remember being there were Mott and his wife and Sherwood and his wife. I heard of the murder the next morning. I am 16 now, but was only 9 years old at that time. If
it wasn't the morning, I don't remember the year.
Ellen Belt: I am Hi Belt's wife. Ellen Belt is my name. I had no acquaintance with the deceased. My ma was sick. I went to see her on Tuesday and came back on Friday. I got Earl Sherwood and his wife to come to stay with my children. I can't state positively whether he lived on our place all the time or not. He lived at Cave-in-Rock awhile. Sherwood lived at our house two or three years before he was married. Sherwood and his wife were at my house when I left. They lived about a quarter off. I was at Cave-in-Rock when I heard it, after I had gotten back. The defendants had been there in the past, but not shortly before the killing. My husband has one pistol. On cross examination, the witness said: I went on Tuesday, in the year 1879, either the last of March or the first of April1879. I told them before I was going off. I didn't look at an almanac or calender. I can't tell where I was any other Tuesday but that. I couldn't tell you whether it rained or not. Wm. Pankey took us to the river.
Luvena Belt: I am sister to Rosetta Hess and Cordelia Mott. Ellen Belt is my mother. Grandma Nesbit was sick. Pa and Ma went over. Wm. Pankey took them to the river. Earl Sherwood and his wife and John Mott and his wife were at our house. I don't remember which came first. I am nineteen now. We went to bed between nine and ten o'clock.I don't know what room we slept in. Sherwood was there the next morning when I got up. I heard of it the next day in the afternoon. Mrs. Griffin came to our house and told us. I was nineteen on the 24th of last June. I was twelve years old at
the time of the murder. I don't know where I was eight years ago today. I don't know where I was a year ago, or a month ago, or a week ago.
Wm. Pankey: I heard of the murder the next day. the day before I had taken Hi Belt and his wife to the river. Sherwood and his wife were there when I left. On cross examination, the witness said: I heard of it the next morning. I stayed at home. I was at the house of Hi Belt, and saw Sherwood and his wife at Belt's between sundown and dark. The sun was up an hour high the next morning. Sherwood had just got up, and I remarked to him that he slept late. He said: Yes, I sat up late. Mr. Taylor was talking to me. Did not tell Reese Lackey at Knuckey's day before yesterday, that Sherwood said he was out late.
Grant Belt: I am a brother of Jesse Belt. Jim stayed at home that night. I had no timepiece; I don't know where Jim was the day before. I went after potatoes that evening. I know Wesley Hughes. Did not say in the presence of Wesley and Nannie Hughes that Jim Belt did not stay at home the evening of the murder of the deceased, but that, getting on his horse, he rode away, saying that he was going to Logan Belt's. I did not say to them that I did not put it past Jim to have killed the deceased. I am 24 years old. James Belt was suspected of the murder by some.
Marion Belt: I was on the Ohio River the day before. I don't know where Ratcliffe's wife was that night. I left there about 8 or 9 o'clock. Grant Belt slept with Jim that night. On cross examination, the witness said: I don't recollect who told me. I was 11 years
old then. I don't know what kind of a day it was. I don't know what day of the month it was or what day of the week it was. I know that Grant Belt slept with Jim that night. George wanted Jim to go to Jonathan's, but Jim said he could not, that he wanted to go to Ebb Dossett's to a rail mauling the next day. I did not say to Hughes that "they had better not have me subpoenaed if they did not want the truth, or that Jim did not stay at home that night." I did not say to Tom Leeper since the habeas corpus trial that Grant and Jim wanted me to swear a pack of d--d lies, but I wouldn't do it.
George Belt: I am twenty-one this fall. George Perry was there in the evening. Marion Belt stayed there till between 9 and 10 o'clock. Grant and me went after potatoes the day before and was gone all day.
Lewis Lavender: I am 72 years old. I have been here sixty years. I was Sheriff of this county sixteen or seventeen years. I was up in the courthouse when Mr. Morris came to me and said to me: "I don't want to prosecute Wm. Frailey, can't you get him to leave?" I talked to Frailey about it, and a report had got out that Frailey was indicted for the murder of the deceased. Frailey said they wouldn't hurt him for that, as his own people murdered him, and that they knew d--d well that he (Frailey) knew it.
Ike Tackett: I have met Jim Belt. I told him that the deceased was murdered. He was three-fourths of a mile from his mother's, and was just above Jesse Oldham's . I had stayed at Jack Oldham's that night. Jack had been to Tobe Ledbetter's. I was on my way to let Jesse and George Oldham know.
Elbert Dossett: Heard of
the death of the deceased. Jim Belt came to my working at
9 o'clock. I sent George Perry and Tom Leeper to ask
hands. Belt and myself were together in the army sixteen
months. I am acquainted with Logan Belt's handwriting.
This notice (to Hambrink's relative, to Morgan Tucker and
Lucy Sterling) is not Logan Belt's handwriting. On cross
examination, he said he was a brother to Ile F. Dossett;
that he was not acquainted with Sherwood's handwriting.
He did not believe the notice to be Logan Belt's
handwriting. He did not solicit to join an organization,
but had heard one talked of. His brother Ile and another
man told him not to go into it.
Jacob Hess: I am tolerably well acquainted with Sherwood's handwriting. I have known Earl Sherwood seven, eight,or nine years. That (the notice to Tom and Jesse Oldham) might be his handwriting, but it doesn't favor his writing.The writing is about the same size as Sherwood's, but Mr. Sherwood uses proper language--bigger words than I do. I have not noticed Sherwood's writing until the last four or five years. I don't think this notice (to Ham- brink) is Logan Belt's handwriting. I was better acquainted with his writing seven or eight years ago than now.
James Keeling: I knew Henry Ledbetter. I had a conversation with him about Tobe. He said Tobe came to his house and said that he had better leave. He told Tobe that he had nothing to do with the killing of the deceased' and that he (Tobe) had better leave. On cross examination, he said: "I was invited to join the organization. Jonathan Belt, Logan Belt and Frank Justice came to my house and wanted me to join them." Question asked by prosecution:
"Did you tell Joe Lowry and John Lane at your house about five weeks ago that they (Jonathan Belt, Logan Belt and Frank Justice) told you they had been looking after Joe Lowry, Frank Hardin and Zed Jenkins, and had been close enough to them to have their guns cocked on them?" Answer: "Did not, only told them that I had heard it."
Earl Sherwood: I am 40 years old. I knew the deceased. I lived at that time on Hi Belt's place. The night before I heard of the death of the deceased, I stayed at Hi Belt's. Robt. Gregory, brother-in-law of Mrs. Belt, came after them, and they asked me and my wife to come and stay until they came back. I think I was at home on the day before the death of the deceased. I was not at Logan Belt's the day before the murder of the deceased. I was not in company with Jas. D. Belt and others that night. I did not write that notice to Tom and Jesse Oldham. I stayed at Logan Belt's the summer of 1876. I went to Hi Belt's in April , 1878. I married H. Belt's daughter, and lived there until the fall of 1879. I heard Bill Frailey's evidence. I was not at Hambrink's as Bill Frailey said. The Ku Klux meeting was about a month after Hambrink's death. There was some talk, after we got there, of ferreting out the murder of the deceased. There was some other cases. Jonathan Belt, Hiram Belt, James Belt, Frank Justice, Wm. White, Robert Sheridan, George Ratcliffe, Elisha Morris, Wm. Taylor, Logan Belt, and myself were at that meeting. It was discussed there that some of the members of Hambrink's own family were guilty of the murder. I am not certain that Wm. Taylor was a witness, but I guess he was. Lucy Melon was a witness. On cross examination, the witness said: I don't remember any grips, signs, etc.
The purpose of the oath was to keep the proceedings secret while ferreting out the murder. The witnesses of the defendants were to be kept from them. I did not hear of any notices. Jonathan Belt was telling about the Ku Klux. I don't remember. "Memento Mori" is a word that I have used sometimes. In 1876, while I was there, it was considered dangerous on some roads, and I carried a pistol. We met at my house to decide who should be arrested for the murder of the deceased. If we had been let alone, we would have had some women arrested, but we were interrupted before we had our arrangements completed. I swore John L. Mott in. I know Sheridan never killed the deceased. Sheridan was as pure a man as ever lived. I have been in jail here and at Shawneetown. I saw Frailey at Logan Belt's a great many times in 1876. I have seen George Ratcliffe there. I have seen Jim Belt there.We would have had somebody arrested in two weeks. I could not tell you how many times in jail. Thought I ought to have been. They asked me to give them an obligation of secrecy. I will not say who asked me. Sheridan came to Hi Belt's. If he wrote it, it is a feigned hand.
George Ratcliffe : I am a farmer. I knew the deceased. I heard of the murder the next morning after the deceased was killed. I was not at Logan Belt's on the day before the deceased was killed. I was not at where Jesse Lowry said I was by the spring back of Hambrink's place. I was never there. One time Jesse Lowry, Logan Belt, and Bill Lyons went a deer driving. I did not inquire of him where Joe Lowry and Frank Hardin lived because I was not there. Frailey says that in 1876 we waylaid the road for Covert. That is not so. I never waylaid the road for anybody. The day before, I was at my mother-in-law's. I had taken my wife
there.. My wife was at her mother's making soap. 1 started after my wife and heard that the deceased was killed. I was never behind a rock. That which Leeper said never occurred. On cross examination, the witness said: I was at Logan's somehow, and Sherwood swore me into the organization. I never received any signs, grips, or pass words. I might have whistled. I don't remember. I can't tell at whose solicitation I went there. I can't say whether I rode or not. I tood an oath to keep things quiet. We went there to ferret out the murder of the deceased. I can't repeat the oath. I can't remember that Logan Belt said anything about it. Not a word was said about any notices. I did not waylay Covert at Harrisburg. I followed him to Eldorado. My wife was left at her mother' s. I met her three-fourths of a mile from mothers's. We met at Sherwood 's. We were to keep quiet. I never wrote Logan Belt a letter in my life. That was not Logan Belt's handwriting. I am acquainted with Sherwood's handwriting. That is not his handwriting. I might have written him some letters that had some words abbreviated.
Jas. D. Belt: Mariah Belt was my mother's name. I lived with my mother. I am twenty eight years old, and a half-brother of Logan Belt. I heard the next morning that the deceased was killed as I was going to Ebb Dossett's working. Tackett told me about one-half mile from home. I didn't tell Leeper that I stayed at Logan Belt's that night. I don't remember the obligation that I took there. I never had any other meeting. I never waylaid anybody. On cross examination, the witness said: I would guess it to be five or six miles from my house to Hambrink's. I can't tell how the houses are situated. I don't know anything about the houses. I never was at the houses in my life but once,
and that was the day of Hambrink's sale. I was about twenty years old. Bob Sheridan asked me to come down there. It seems like I have been to Salem. I had an uncle that lived there. He is dead now. I don't know where he died. Bill Frailey lived at Logan Belt's. I heard Wash Covert was shot. Someone told me. I did not swear that I was at Logan Belt's on the night the deceased was murdered, at the Ku Klux trial. I don't know where I stayed on the night of April 1, 1879. I had a lie bill by Frank Hardin. It was among my father's papers, and I thought he would be here as a witness, and I wanted to impeach him.
Logan Belt: My name is Logan Belt. I am forty-six years old, and have known Hambrink ever since he came from the old country. At the time of his assassination, my wife and I and Art Belt went to a rail mauling at Ebb Dossett's. The deceased was not a witness. Lucy Melon was against me. Lucy Sterling was my witness. I never organized a crowd to run off witnesses. I was at home the day before the killing. I was not at Mrs. Greene's that day. I did not go to Mrs. Greene and ask her to swear me out of the murder of the deceased. Bill Frailey was at my house at eight or nine o'clock in the morning. He said he was coming here to get subpoenas. Frailey ate supper that day at my house. He lived about four miles from my house. I did not request him to go and burn the Rock Creek school house. I left my house between sundown and dark. I went to the house. Dr. Cane was there. Bill Frailey lit his pipe, and about that time, Dr. Cane left. Tom Jones was with me when I shot. Jones was living on the premises. Close to where Jim Smock lives I was fired upon. That was the only shooting. I have talked with Frailey lots
of times in the penitentiary. I never told him that I killed the deceased. Grindstaff told me that when he got down here, Frailey and he separated and Frailey went to the Oldham crowd. Frailey told Grindstaff that he wanted to lay the murder on me. I told Grindstaff that I would give him my farm to place the Hambrink murder where it belonged. I had a conversation with Lackey, but did not tell him that Greene said for me to organize a band. Reese said that Sheridan had asked him to join the band. I had learned that the deceased was not furnishing money to prosecute me with from Tobe Ledbetter. The deceased and I never had any trouble about a dog. Gustavis Melon and his wife separated, and he said he wanted me to take the place. I agreed to it. The first note was sold to Hambrink. Luke and I could not agree about it. That was the only misunderstanding we ever had. The only private words me and Mrs.Hambrink ever had were about sending for a doctor for the deceased. I have known her all my life. I was at the meeting in col.. Clay Hollow. The head of it was Sheridan. The intention was to ferret out the murder of the deceased. My boy had a very small gun. I had a shotgun and a 32 caliber pistol. I never used the language which Ile Dossett said I did in conversation with him. On cross examination, the witness said: I never shot Covert. I did not shoot Frailey. I remember hearing the article to Golconda Herald read. Sherwood wrote it at my house. I heard Sherwood read it and saw Frailey make his mark to it. Joe Lowry witnessed it. (Here the witness described the locality and grounds where Covert was shot.) I went with a writ to Saline County after Covert. I wanted him arrested because Jones told me that Covert was one of the men that waylaid me. I didn't write that notice to Hambrink. Ididn't know
that the deceased was on the indictment. I did not tell my son Hiram to kill his mother.
Here the defense rested.
REBUTTAL TESTIMONY, AS
INTRODUCED BY THE PEOPLE
John T. Ledbetter: Logan
Belt did say to his son Hiram, while he was being taken
to jail at Shawneetown, that "If your mother comes
there, take your gun and fill her full of shot."
John A. Bernard: Logan Belt said to his son Hiram: "If your mother comes fooling around, take your gun and fill her full of shot."
John W. Hughes: Grant Belt said at my house that Jim Belt did not stay at home on the night the deceased was killed, and that he did not put it past him to have killed the deceased.
Thomas Oldham: Jim Belt swore in the Ku Klux trial that he stayed all night at Loge Belt's the night of the murder of the deceased.
Morgan Tucker: I was here at the Ku Klux trial. I heard Jim Belt testify, and he said he did not know where he stayed on the night the deceased was killed. Logan Belt immediately spoke up and said: "Didn't you stay at my house?" and Jim Belt said: "Yes, I did."
George Ledbetter: Jim Belt testified at the Ku Klux trial that he stayed at Logan Belt's the night the deceased was murdered.
James Oldham: Jim Belt said at the Ku
Klux trial that he stayed at Logan Belt's the night the deceased was murdered.
Nannie Schafer: Grant Belt said that Jim Belt did not stay at home the night the deceased was killed; that he went away, saying he was going to Loge's.
Elizabeth Hughes: Grant Belt said that Jim Belt did not stay at home the night the deceased was killed, but went to Loge's.
Elizabeth Baugher: Jack Oldham did not say in my presence that "if it had not been for d--d keen swearing, his poor body would have suffered for the murder of the deceased."
Jesse Lowry: George Ratcliffe lived on Loge Belt's place either in the Tom Lowry house or in the Roark house when the deceased was killed.
David B. Shoemaker: George Ratcliffe lived on Loge Belt's place, in the house that Roark built, at the time the deceased was murdered.
Albert Oxford: George Ratcliffe lived in the Roark house, close to Loge Belt's at the time of the death of the deceased.
Dan Austin: Jim Belt testified at the Ku Klux trial that he stayed at Loge Belt's the night of the murder of thedeceased.
REBUTTAL OF DEFENSE
George Ratcliffe was
introduced and testified as follows: "I moved from
Mariah Belt's place to the farm of Jacob Hess in the fall
1878 and then moved to
the Roark house on Loge Belt's place in the May
The examination of witnesses was finished Thursday evening, and the argument began Friday morning (which was clear and a pleasant breeze) at 8:45 by Judge John Q. A. Ledbetter leading out for the prosecution. The importance of the case was first laid before the jury by him, then the weight of the evidence and the provisions of the law sustaining the case, the findings of the bill by the grand jury in October, 1886, and the preliminary trial before Judge McCartney and the conclusion of that trial, the reason why only four of the indicted men were now on trial, the history of this case, beginning with the killing of Doc Oldham in 1875--showing that after the indictment was formed to annihilate the witnesses against Belt; reading of the law concerning conspiracies, and then giving his opinions as to its meaning and how it applied to this case. He presented indictment of Belt for killing Doc Oldham, as rendered April 5, 1876, and discussed the evidence of Wm. Frailey. He showed the act of the conspirators, when they began waylaying, and that they waited till the leaves put out in the spring and then began waylaying witnesses. He told of the burning of Lucy Sterling's house; giving notice to the deceased to remove two of the witnesses off his farm; meeting in the glen below Cave-in Rock; and swearing men into their conspiracy; peculiarities of approaching men; the threats that always accompany the solicitation of men to join them; his objects and designs in ferreting out the foul murder of the deceased; and their efforts and their detectives working in this case. He told of Judge Stelle's opening statement that they would not only clear
the defendants, but show
who did kill the deceased, and that, when additional
counsel was secured by them, they concluded they would
have enough to do to clear the defendants' Stelle
charging the prosecution with conspiracy to"break
Loge Belt's neck" and then failing to give any
evidence to that effect; Judge Stelle's opening statement
about the grand jury's motives in finding the bill of
indictment; George Ratcliffe's alabi; kinds of murder,
and what constitutes murder, etc.; what constitutes
alibis; evidence of the defendants; the influence of the
oath that bound the organization together; acts of
conspirators, their plan of clearing each other, etc.;
concluding with an appeal to the jury, and the character
of the murder and Luke Hambrink; Logan Belt's efforts to
tack the murder of the deceased on other parties, and
classed these theories or features as indications of his
guilt; discussed anticipated theory of the defendants in
their arguments, and closed with an earnest appeal to the
jury at 1:50 o'clock p.m.
Judge Stelle began argument for the defense at 1:55 p.m. and discussed the position and importance of the jury in making a verdict where human life was at stake, etc., principles of the law in such cases, the motives that Hambrink's own family could have had for killing him, etc., and appealed to the Jury for the liberty of the defendants. Defense closed Saturday at 2 p.m. by a speech of three hours and thirty minutes from F. M. Youngblood to arouse the sympathy of the Jury by a rousing appeal to them for a careful consideration in regard to their verdict. Hon. W.S. Morris then closed for the prosecution by an eloquent address to the jury of two hours and fifteen minutes,ending at 4:15 p.m. The unusually strict instructions of the Judge were then read
and the jury retired. In less than thirty minutes, and at 6:30 p.m., the jury rendered the following verdict:
We, the jury, find the defendants, Logan Belt, Earl Sherwood, George Ratcliffe, and Jas. D. Belt, not guilty.
We most assuredly could not, were we so gifted, say too much in praise of Judge John Q. A. Ledbetter and Hon.W. S Morris, for the gallant fight made by them in behalf of the people, right and justice. The defense had some of the most able counsel of the State employed to defend them--and they evidently did good work.
We give finis of trial, which we have been for sometime trying to crowd out. What we have given is a true rendering and as taken by five of the best men in the county. They correspond with each other throughout, and their manuscripts and duplicates of same will be kept.
FACSIMILE OF LETTER BY
LOGAN BELT 3-23-1887
Mrs. Molle, My Good Wife,
in haste I write you this Epistle--Hon. Stelle has been
with me today and George & Hugh J. Hales. Stelle
thought we had better keep this man through the trial--So
I settled with him by agreeing to pay Old Man Jack $21.
You and I will pay his expenses from now until Court
ends. I also gave him the money that will more than pay
his expenses to court $10. So you will have nothing to
pay, only the $21 to poor old Jack. You may arrange some
of it without money. You must stow your wheat before
Court at the Cave and if you have any to spare, sell it.
He's to furnish evidence to vindicate us for $79,
otherwise is to get nothing more. Pillow
holds the contract. He will receipt you for the $10 as you have all the receipts, I told him to. Now Mollie be * * * * * he is to get up and go and leave nothing unturned. I want you to kinder look a ledle out & see how he does. Oh how bad I feel just since I began writing this letter--under each ear screaks & hurts--in the locks of jaws also hurts--I feel funny. Baby, sell such things as you know you don't need and git things in shape as fast as you can--would like to see you, but don't come unless you git ready and want too.
I don't know anything about your oat & potato trade here. Mary, I sent you some pictures for you to make fools peaches over--Jody, you, Jonathan and children all be good. Papa will be home in the sweet by & by.
Mollie, don't let your Pen write anything on paper about a jury as in this letter to me it might get misplaced and get to the Public.
Need, or the word indicated in the above or foregoing letter, was spelled kneed, but a line was afterward drawn through the letter. The letter was written on legal cap, but was afterwards torn in halves near the center or line of folding, and in a ragged but slanting ling from left to right, so that "Shawneetown, Ill.," was, it is supposed, torn off. But, be that as it may, the letter has been identified by several reliable men, who were all acquainted with Belt's handwriting, as being the handwriting of Logan Belt. It evidently, by the non connection of the two sides, and where asterisks are inserted, gave to his last wife the details of the manner in which the late trial was to be managed. Through R. F. Taylor, an attorney in the case, the first wife of Belt,
after his death and the
removal of his last wife to Elizabethtown (so we learn),
was induced to move in the vacant house. It was she who
found the fragment of this letter while cleaning out the
rubbish preparatory to occupancy. Mrs. Mary Belt (Nee
Frailey) at once gave the letter to Mr. James Walton, who
immediately sent it to us through the kindness of Mr.
John Lane. After having it inspected by the proper
authorities, we now give it to our readers, who may draw
their own conclusion.
INSTRUCTIONS OF JUDGE BAKER
TO JURY IN AFOREGOING OR BELT-HAMERINK MURDER TRIAL
That if you believe from
the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that in the
spring of 1876 the defendants combined and confederated
together for the purpose of killing and running off
witnesses in a certain criminal prosecution, then pending
against Logan Belt, and that Luke Hambrink became a
witness for the prosecution before the final trial
thereof; if you further believe from the evidence, beyond
a reasonable doubt, that the defendants, by means of said
combination, shot and killed Luke Hambrink, or caused him
to be shot and killed, as charged in the indictment, then
you should find all of the defendants guilty of murder
and fix their punishment as explained in these
You are instructed that if you believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that in the spring of 1876 an indictment was pending against Logan Belt, charging him with the murder of one Doc Oldham, and that Lucy Sterling, Geo. W Covert, Morgan Tucker, Lucy Melon, Thos. Oldham and Luke Hambrink and others were witnesses against him in said cause; and if you further believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the
conspiracy is a
combination of two or more persons, by some concert of
action, to accomplish some criminal or unlawful purpose
by criminal or unlawful means.
That the evidence in proof of a conspiracy may be circumstantial or direct and, although the common design is the essence of the charge and must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, yet it is not necessary to prove that the defendants came together and actually agreed in terms to have that design and pursue it by common means.
The jury is instructed that while the law requires in order to find all the defendants guilty, that the evidence should prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they all acted in concert in the commission of the crime charged. Still it is not necessary that it should be proven that they all met together and agreed to commit the crime. Such concert may be proved by circumstances, and from all the evidence, the jury is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed by the defendants, and that they all acted together in the commission of the crime, each aiding in his own way, this is all the law requires to make them all equally guilty.
An accessory is one who stands by and aids, abets or assists the real perpetrator in the commission of a crime, or, who not being present, has counseled and advised its commission. Under being present, has counseled and advised, aids, abets or assists in the commission of a crime is regarded as a principal and punished accordingly.
To convice the defendants of the crime charged, it is not necessary that the killing should have been done by the prisoner's own hands, or those of either of them, but if it is shown by the evidence beyond a reasonable
doubt, either that all
the defendants were actually present, aiding, abetting
and assisting in the actual commission of the crime
charged, or that they were constructively present and had
counseled or advised the commission of the crime, then
and in such case you should find all of the defendants
guilty, as charged in the indictment.
That the advising or encouraging that may make one an accessory to crime need not be by words only, but may be by words or acts, signs or motions, done or made for the purpose of encouraging the commission of crime.
That if you believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, that any one or more of the defendants are guilty of shooting and killing Luke Hambrink, as charged in the indictment, and that any other of the defendants stood by at the time, and aided, abetted or assisted in the commission of the crime, or not being present, had advised or encouraged the commission of the same, then such other persons so aiding, abetting, advising or encouraging, are in law, guilty as principals, and the jury should so find by their verdict.
That an accessory is one who stands by and aids, abets or assists, or who, not being present aiding, abetting or assisting, hath advised and encouraged the perpetration of the crime charged; he who thus aids, abets, assists, advises or encourages, is considered a principal and punished accordingly.
That if you believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Logan Belt, wilfully, feloniously and of his malice aforethought, shot and killed Luke Hambrink, as charged in the indictment, and that Earl Sherwood, James D. Belt and George Ratcliffe were present, aiding and abetting such killing, as explained in these instructions, or that prior
thereto they had
counseled and advised such killing, then you should find
all of the defendants guilty of murder, as charged in the
That if you believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendants, together with Matthew Ledbetter and Sina Hambrink, combined and confederated together to kill Luke Hambrink, and that in the pursuance of such combination and confederation, they did shoot and kill him, as charged in the indictment, then you should find all of the defendants guilty of murder.
The jury is instructed that if they believe, from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the circumstances surrounding the defendants, or either of them, were calculated to awaken suspicion against them, and that, acting from fear or such a belief, they fabricated testimony or attempted to fabricate testimony in their own behalf, or that they concealed or attempted to conceal the real perpetrators of the crime, then you may consider the facts and circumstances relating thereto, if proven in that behalf, in determining the question of guilt or innocence.
That although you may believe of the perpetration of the crime charged, still if you believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendants combined together to kill Luke Hambrink, and did kill him as charged, then you should find the defendants guilty, even though you believe, from the evidence, that Francis Sina Hambrink was accessory to said killing.
That, although you may believe from the evidence, that the witness, Matthew Ledbetter, had guilty knowledge of the perpetration of
the crime charged, still, if you believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendants combined together to kill Luke Hambrink, and did kill him as charged, then you should find the defendants guilty, even though you believe from the evidence that Matthew Ledbetter was accessory to said killing.
That, although you may believe from the evidence that the witness, William Frailey, had guilty knowledge of the perpetration of the crime charged, still, if you believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendants combined together to kill Luke Hambrink, and did kill him as charged, then you should find the defendants guilty, even though you believe from the evidence that William Frailey was accessory to said killing.
That, although you may believe from the evidence that the witnesses, William Frailey, Matthew Ledbetter and Frances Sina Hambrink had guilty knowledge of the perpetration of the crime charged, still, if you believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendants combined together to kill Luke Hambrink, and did kill him as charged, then you should find the defendants guilty, even though you believe from the evidence that William Frailey, Matthew Ledbetter and Frances Sina Hambrink were accessories to said killing.
That, in considering this case, you should not go beyond the evidence to hunt for doubts, nor should you entertain such doubts as are merely chimerical or based upon groundless conjecture.
A doubt, to justify an acquittal, must be reasonable and arise from a candid and impartial consideration of all the evidence in the case, and then it must be such a doubt as would cause a reasonable, prudent and considerate man to hesitate and pause before acting in the
graver and more important affairs of life.
If, after a careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence in the case, you can say and feel that you have an abiding conviction of the guilt of the defendants and are fully satisfied of the truth of the charge, then you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt.
That the reasonable doubt, which entitles the accused to acquittal, is doubt of guilt reasonably arising from all the evidence in the case. The proof is deemed to be beyond reasonable doubt when the evidence is sufficient to impress the judgment of ordinarily prudent men with a conviction on which they would act without hesitation in theirown most important concerns or affairs of life.
That, in a legal sense, a reasonable doubt is a doubt which has some reason for its basis; it does not mean a doubt from mere caprice or groundless conjecture. A reasonable doubt is such a doubt as the jury is able to give a reason for.
The rule requiring the jury to be satisfied of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to warrant a conviction, does not require that the jury should be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of each link in the chain of circumstances that is put in evidence and relied upon to establish the defendants are guilty, and that each link or circumstance that is essential and necessary in order to establish guilt, is established beyond such reasonable doubt.
That, while it is necessary for the prosecution to prove every material allegation in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt, yet if the proof is of that nature that it would control and decide the conduct of reasonable and cautious men in the highest and most impor
tent affairs of life, then, as a matter of law, facts established by such evidence are deemed to be established beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury in a criminal case with that kind and degree of proof before them, as to every material allegation in the indictment, should convict.
You are instructed that if you believe from the evidence that William Frailey, one of the prosecuting witnesses in this cause, is what is known in law as an accomplice, still you cannot on that account disregard his testimony, but in the light of all the other facts and circumstances proven, you should give such weight to it as you deem proper.
The law is that the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice is sufficient to convict a person charged with crime, if from such evidence the jury believes, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused are guilty as charged.
You are instructed that, while the statute renders the defendants competent witnesses in their own behalf, still thejury are the Judges of the credibility and weight of such testimony, and in determining such weight and credibility, the fact that said defendants are interested in the result of the prosecution may be taken into account by the jury,and they may give such testimony only such weight as they think it entitled to under all the circumstances of the case, and in view of the interest of such witnesses.
If the jury believes, from the evidence, that the defendants have wilfully sworn falsely on this trial, as to any matter or thing material to the issues in the case, then the Jury are at liberty to disregard their entire testimony, except in so far as they have been corroborated by other credible evidence, or by facts and circumstances proved on the trial.
That while the defendants, as regards the defense of an alibi, are not required to prove that defense beyond a reasonable doubt to entitle them to an acquittal, yet they should establish that defense so clearly and satisfactorily as to raise in the mind of the jury a reasonable doubt as to their presence at the time and place of the commission of the crime charged.
The court instructs you that if you believe from the evidence that the said Luke Hambrink was unlawfully killed with malice aforethought in manner and form charged in the indictment, and that the defendants were present and in any manner aided, abetted or assisted in such killing, or advised or encouraged the same, the jury should find them guilty, although they may believe from the evidence that some other person fired the fatal shot.
that if the evidence, facts and circumstances convince you, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the said Luke Hambrink was unlawfully killed with malice aforethought, in manner and form as charged in the indictment, and that the defendants were present and in any manner aided, assisted or abetted such killing or advised or encouraged the same, then the jury should find them guilty, though there was no human eye witnessed the fact of such killing.
That, if you believe from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that any one or more of the defendants are guilty of the offense charged in the indictment, and that any other of the defendants stood by at the time and aided and abetted or assisted or not being present had advised or encouraged the commission of the same, then such other persons so aiding, abetting, advising or encouraging are in law guilty as principals and the Jury should so find by their verdict.
You are instructed that what is meant by circumstantial evidence in criminal cases is the proof of such facts and circumstances connected with or surrounding the commission of the crime charged as tends to show the guilt or innocence of the parties charged, and if these facts and circumstances in this case are sufficient to satisfy the jury of the guilt of the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt, then such evidence is sufficient to authorize the jury in finding a verdict of guilty, and you should so find.
You are instructed that while you must be convinced of the guilt of the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt from the evidence in order to warrant a conviction, still the proof need not be the direct evidence of persons who saw the offense committed.
The acts constituting the crime may be proved by circumstances.
You are instructed that although you may believe from the evidence that the witness, William Frailey, has sworn differently at different times regarding the matters testified to by him, still it you believe, from all the facts and circumstances in evidence surrounding this case, that he has testified truthfully upon this trial, then, and in that case, you are authorized to give his testimony all the weight, credit and belief that you think it is entitled to receive.
If you find the defendants, or either of them, guilty of the crime charged in the indictment, then you should fix their punishment by your verdict, which may be imprisonment for life or for any number of years not less than fourteen or you may fix the death penalty. You may fix the punishment of each separately as you see fit by your verdict, giving the same or different punishments to each.
You are instructed that the indictment in this case is for murder; that the punishments for murder are three -- the punishment of death, imprisonment in the penitentiary for the term of the defendant's natural life, or imprisonment in the penitentiary for any term not less than fourteen years that you may agree upon.
That if you find the defendants or any or either of them guilty of murder, then you should fix his or their punishment and return it as part of your verdict or verdicts.
That if you find any or all of the defendants guilty of murder, and fix the death penalty for such defendant or defendants, then your verdict as to such defendant or defendants may be in this form, to wit:
"We the jury, find (here inset the name or names of such defendant or defendants) guilty of murder as charged in the indictment, and we do further find that said (here inset name or names) shall suffer the penalty of death."
That if you find any or all of the defendants guilty of murder and fix their punishment at imprisonment in the penitentiary for life, then your verdict as to such defendant or defendants may be in this form, to wit:
"We, the Jury, find (here the name or names of such defendant or defendants) guilty of murder as charged in the indictment, and we fix the punishments of said (here insert name or names) at imprisonment in the penitentiary for the term (or terms) of his (or their) natural life (or lives)."
That if you find any or all of the defendants guilty of murder and fix his or their punishment at imprisonment in the penitentiary for a term or terms of years, not less than fourteen, then your verdict as to such defendant or defendants may be in this form, to wit:
"We, the Jury, find (here insert the name
or names of such defendant or defendants) guilty of murder as charged in the indictment, and we fix the punishment of said (here insert name or names) at imprisonment in the penitentiary for the term of (here insert any period not less than fourteen years that you may agree upon.)
That you may find either one, or some, or all of the defendants guilty, or one or some, or all of the defendants not guilty. That you may find some or all of the defendants guilty and give the same or different punishments to those found guilty. That you may return one form of verdict and punishment for one defendant, and another and different punishment for another, and still different punishments for each of the others. In this latter case, you may use and combine the forms above given, so as to express your findings as to each of the defendants, and you may give the same or a different term of years to those you may find guilty.
If you acquit all the defendants, then your verdict may be in this form, to wit:
"We, the jury, find the defendants not guilty."
If you convict some of the defendants and acquit others, then you should specify in your verdict which of the defendants you find not guilty, and which of the defendants you find guilty.
At the close of his sentence on the charge of having murdered Hambrink, Belt again returned home with his new wife and settled down to life. But somehow, matters did not seem to run smooth in the neighborhood in which he lived as the stock of those to whom he was an enemy began to suddenly sicken and die in rapid succession. And no one was able to tell what ailed the dead animals. They were cut open in an instant or two and the outer portion
of the entrails were found to be congested or very much inflamed. The supposition at last became current among the people that this deadly work was being done with a shot gun of very small bore and charged with gun powder only. Out of the five or six cases of this character in as many weeks, one case was the property of a friend and that was supposed to be either by design or accident. This happened just prior to the assassination of Belt after which no more cattle were lost by people living in that vicinity.
We give an account of the assassination of Belt as was given in the Register, a weekly paper published in thecounty at Cave-in-Rock, under the date of June 10th, 1887, and is as follows:
Logan Belt Assassinated--Shot dead in his buggy while returning home from market---a lady accomplice or supposed work of a man and woman. On last Monday evening, June 6th, Logan Belt was shot and killed while enroute home from Cave-in-Rock and about 150 or 200 yards west of Wesley Chapel, on the Old State road, and which adds another crime to the dark annals of Hardin. It is said to be the first time since his trial that he had gone anywhere even on his farm unaccompanied. At least it was the first time he had been seen in this place alone - his wife, a relative or some friend having formerly accompanied him.
He started home after the rain that evening, and the distance to his home is about four and one-half miles. On the spot where he met his tragic death, the road runs to the verge of a bluff or ledge of rocks having a descent of some fifty or sixty yards (torn page or line gone) Shirley. A Mrs. Jerry said at 6:30 she started to milk the cows and while milking, she heard a shot fired as from a rifle, then a scream such as made by a person
in dire distress. The scream was instantly followed by three more shots in rapid succession and then a rumbling report as though a team were running off with a wagon. After hearing of the murder' she supposed that it was Belt who did the screaming. This was about one hour by sun, she said, and 6:30 by her clock. His remains were interred at Peter's Creek cemetery, Wednesday.
The above is as was reported. And now, dear reader, we are nearing the end of our little volume and biography of Logan Belt. We have endeavored to present to you the life of one of the most remarkable men that Southern Illinois ever knew, and a man whose cruel hands many have suffered. We have been very careful to present to you only what truth warranted, and could we but place before you all that we have learned, to our satisfaction, of the many dark deeds of Logan Belt, this work would be four-fold larger than its present size. It would be a blood-curdling narrative to say the least. We have met with a great many obstacles in the preparation of the book, as the friends of the character as here given strongly objected to its issue and refused to furnish the author with a photograph of Logan Belt. A true cabinet portrait of our character was withheld from us. We procured one that we considered good and which is herein presented to our readers.
Having given you the impartially written history of Logan Belt amid difficulties that would have caused some men to flounder in their work, we submit our book for your kindly consideration by appending a letter written by the latter Mrs. Logan Belt, as a finish.
Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 13th, 1887. Editor of the Register, Cave-in-Rock, Ill.
Sir, I understand you have "with the assistance of interesting writers," just com
pleted the manuscript for a book containing the life of my husband, I do not know how many writers there are, nor who they are, but I have an idea who, (or at least a part of them), and I do not want that history written. Not that my husband has ever done any thing I would care to have every person know of, but that which he never thought of doing would be grasped for the hardest. Not that I care to have written again, he once killed a man, being the one it was, for God knows he did a good thing when he did it and it would have been a better one if he had left more of them in the same fix he left that one in, and every man or woman who were possessors of truth, Man or Womanhood would say so. Not because he was indicted last fall for murder, for he was as innocent of that for which he was indicted as an infant, but from my own observation, I know it would not be written by unbiased pens, written by ------- , and I know he is at the bottom of it, and has been preparing it for years.
MRS. LOGAN BELT
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