Reproduced with permission of
John Marion Belt by William J. Belt
copyright 1980 by Johm M. Belt
Who Killed Logan Belt
THE DETECTIVE STORY
It has been generally known since before Logan Belt was killed that certain people in Elizabethtown, Illinois, wanted him killed. Relatives of some of them have informed me of that fact. At one time, he was a deputy to the sheriff, and if the Belts had a friend in the county organization, it was the sheriff, as will be shown later. The following material reveals the opinions of some people as they protested to the Governor for help in running the affairs of the county. Finally, a detective was sent to the county, and his report will be interesting as you read it. Also included is a synopsis of the evidence in the case of the people against Logan Belt for killing Doc Oldham. For some reason or other, there were several people not used on either side as witnesses. My grandmother told this writer that she was present at the dance and witnessed the killing of Doc Oldham. Her story coincided with the testimonies for the defense. In discussing this with Noel Hurford, publisher of the Hardin County Independent, he related the story told to him by his grandfather, George Dale. His story was identical to my grandmother's story. What am I trying to prove? Nothing. Practically everything I am presenting is a matter of record and a lot is sworn testimony. I leave it to the reader to form a conclusion.
(Typist's note: The letters following are printed here just as they appeared in the original, misspellings and all.)
Office C, M. FERREL & Co.,
DRY GOODS, CLOTHING, GROCERIES
Boots, Shoes, Hats, Caps, Drugs, Oils, Hardware, Etc.
Elizabethtown, ILL., April 20th, 1881
Honl. S. L. Cullum
Our J.Q.A. Ledbetter, States atterney, visates you for the purpose of Seeing if thair can be any arraigments made for the purpose of feriting ot the murderer of one of our best citizens, Luke Hambrink he was a good quiet citizen and foulley murdard by some one the good citizens of this county air anxious to have the guilty partyes brought to justis if you can have some good detective sent here thair is no doubt the hole fact can be brought to light in short time any thaing you can consistingly do to forward this matter will be appreciatted by all good citizens of this community and especally by your umble servant
C. M. Ferrell
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.O F F I C E O F T H E
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS,
HARDIN COUNTY, ILLINOIS
July 1st, 1879
To His Excellency, Shelby M. Cullam,
Governor of Illinois
Your petitioner would respectfully represent, that a bad state of affairs exist in Hardin County at this time; that some sort of band has been organized for dishonest and unlawful purposes, and that a part of said band stand indicted for said conspiracy; that a good citizen was, on the night of April 1st, assassinated in his own dwelling (to wit, Luke Hambrink,) and that there is some grounds for thinking that certain members of the aforesaid band assassinated him, but that the ordinary course of the law cannot be followed in the arrest and conviction of the parties; I would therefore, most respectfully suggest that if you can send a good detective down here to assist in working up the case you would be doing community in this part of the state a great service. Three hundred dollars have already been pledged by the Hambrink family, and if your excellency could offer a small additional reward, and send a man to work up the case, it might save the State and county both of considerable expense and trouble in the near future.
Believe me, the case is one presenting a very serious aspect.
I am very Respectfully your obedient servant,
James A. Lowry
Judge Lowery submits this letter to me, and I will add that I think it quite probable that the organization reffered to has the assistance of desperate characters in Kentucky.
W. S. Morris
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July 5th, 1879 To his Excellency
Shelby M. Cullom
Dear Sir. The state of affairs in Hardin County has no doubt been explained to you by Hon. W. S. Morris with whom I am associated in the prosecution of these parties. Mr. Halls called upon me this morning and I give him this communication. There is nothing needed here now except some officers to enforce the law. The sheriff and prosecution are in fact in sympathy with the parties if their acts and sayings can be taken as a criterion by which to judge. The people here are united in their opposition to this Klan and I don't think there is any danger to any parties except the witnesses for the people and the counsel which are prosecuting. But there is danger to these parties unless we get somebody to enforce the laws.
Yours very Respectfully,
P.S. The Prosecuting Attorney of this county I am sorry to say rather impedes than assists in the prosecution of these parties and the people believing this called upon Mr. Morris and myself to carry on these prosecutions. His conduct has been such that though there might be trouble to make positive proof of the fact, as to lead everybody nearly to believe that he cannot be depended upon to prosecute if the defense has any money. He is a brother-in-law too to the sheriff, hence the clogs in the wheels. He is also attorney for Logan Belt in civil cases and it is generally believed he keeps Belt posted as to the movements of the prosecution and by these means prevents the execution of the law. Logan Belt openly comes to his office when in town and they carouse together night after night during our tenure of court.
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To his Excellency the Hon. Shelby M. Cullom.
The undersigned Officers and citizens of the County of Hardin would respectfully represent unto your Excellency that during the spring and summer of 1879 the citizens of said county were kept in a continual state of alarm in consequence of the prevalence of crime in said county, that on the night of the 1st of April AD1879, Luke Hambrink, are esteemable citizen of said county, was foully murdered by persons unknown, that they believe the murderers of said Hambrink can be found, indicted and convicted if your Excellency will furnish a detective for a short time to assist in the apprehensions of the offenders.
Dated at Elizabethtown April 20th 1881
John Q. A. Ledbetter, States Attorney
J. A. Vineyard, Circuit Clerk
John T. Ledbetter, Sheriff
J.H.B. Renfro, County Clerk
Jonathan F. Taylor, County Judge
J. A. Lowry, Co. Supt. of Schools
John Tyre, Co. Commissioner
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State of Illinois
To his Excellency the Honorable Shelby M. Cullom, Governor of the State of Illinois.
The undersigned would most respectfully represent unto your Excellency the following statement of facts in relation to affairs in Hardin County.
In December 1874 Logan Belt killed Elisha Oldham. The following April he was indicted for the murder of Oldham. And as soon as he was indicted, and even before, he began to arrange a plan by which he, with the assistance of his brothers and some others of like character might assassinate the principal witnesses for the prosecution and those maintaining the prosecution, and by this means avoid the effect of a prosecution against him for the murder of Oldham. Various attempts were made by Logan Belt, his brothers, and brother-in-laws to ambush the brothers of Oldham deceased who were maintaining the prosecution. Attempts were also made to take the life of the principal witnesses. In the meantime, Luke Hambrink who was a quiet, well to do and respectable citizen of said county - by chance of circumstances became a witness of some importance in the cause referred to, and no sooner did this become known to the Belt party, than all means of intimidation were used to influence the testimony of Hambrink. Several notes signed by such anonymous names, as "Ku Klux Klan" and "Regulators" were left at Hambrinks threatening his life unless he left the country, quit furnishing money to the Oldhams, as was untruly charged, discharge from his employ one Morgan Tucker (who was another witness against Belt) and other threats of like character. And the situation became more hazardous the whole time, until Mr. Hambrink did not hesitate to say that it was the intention of Logan Belt and his gang to assassinate him the first favorable opportunity, and as a witness before the grand jury the fall before his death begged that body not to press the answers of certain questions as the answers would hasten his fate, and for some months before his death, Hambrink kept a teacher of the district free of expense in order to have him sleep in the room with him (Hambrink) at night that he (teacher) might prevent the assassination, and at the time of the expiration of the teachers employment Hambrink begged him to remain longer as he (Hambrink) would be killed as soon as he (the teacher). left, which was the fact as Hambrink within a few days of the departure of the teacher - From all the information we have been able to glean, the details of which we feel would be a tresspass upon your excellency's time, the facts are that there was a regularly organized body of men under the control and influence of Logan Belt and his brothers who were either actual participants in the murder or accessories thereto, that in consequence of the fact of nearly all the parties living in Hardin County, and the fact of their acquaintance with the local officers, and the fear with which they inspire any who knows any thing about the matter prevents a grand jury from obtaining enough testimony upon which to base an indictment, and we believe if your excellency would furnish a detective that the whole matter could be put in such a shape in a short time that the murderers of Hambrink could be indicted, convicted and made to pay the penalty of the law. We therefore ask you in the name of the citizens of the county of Hardin that you will, if in your judgment the interests of the people of the county of Hardin demand it - furnish us assistance of some kind that will enable us to accomplish the convictions of the murderers of Luke Hambrink - and we respectfully ask attention to the petition of the officers of the county hereto attached.
The difficulty in ferretting out the matter consists in the fact that some twelve or fifteen of the persons composing the lawless gang reside in the vicinity of the homicide - and the persons thought to be guilty of the act of assination have the protection of those lawless persons who though they may not have participated at the actual scene of the murder are nevertheless some way connected therewith. As the organization refered to had an extensive connection with segret organizations in Crittendon Co., Ky., and probably with some of Williamson Co. raiders, it is believed that if the offenders could be brought to justice it would effecully break up the clan in Hardin Co. The service needed is a shrewd man to go among these fellows and to the scene of the assassination and to interview the persons having knowledge upon the subject of the assassination. The result would we believe be, that some two or three desperate men in Hardin Co. would be brought to justice.
J. Q. A. Ledbetter, States Attorney
W. S. Morris
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|To: His Excellency||In relation to: The Ku|
|G. W. Cullom, Governor .||Klux of Hardin Co|
In compliance with your instructions of the 29th, I went to Hardin County and made a full investigation of the alleged Ku Klux outrages and murders there.
I find that matters there have been greatly misrepresented and exagerated both by the press and otherwise. That not only no terror exists among the people there but no outrages has been committed on the citizens of that county.
The state of affairs there are as follows:
There are living at Cave-in-Rock in Hardin Co. a family named Belt who are a hard crowd. During the year of 1876, Logan Belt shot and killed one Dock Oldham or "Odum" (as the natives call it) at a dance that engendered bad blood between the Belts and Oldhams. Logan Belt was arrested for the murder and took a change of venue to Shawneetown and since then has succeeded in getting his trial continued from term to term untill it is now set for Monday the 14th of this month at a special term of court called at Shawneetown. Belt has been released on bail and has been busy with his friends all this time in trying to run off the witnesses against him and the Oldhams has been just as busy in getting up the evidence against him and the bitterest feelings exists between them.
On the 1st of last April Luke Hambrink was murdered in his house by some party or parties unknown.
The Oldams charged Logan Belt with the murder of Hambrink because they had been getting money from him to prosecute Logan Belt with. While Logan Belt may have killed Hambrink, it would seem a strange thing for him to do as it was well known that Hambrink was on the cue of moving to Germany where he would not have been able to have assisted the Oldhams even if he wished to.
It is more probable that Hambrink was murdered by some one that was interested in trying to keep his property, etc.
On the 30th of last May two men, Frank Hardin and Z. B. Jenkins came to Elizabethtown and swore out warrants for the arrest of Logan Belt, Johnathan Belt, H. J. Belt, James Belt, Arthur Belt, Elisha Morris, William Fraley, Gee. Ratcliff, Frank Justice, Tom Leeper, Robert Sheridan, W. D. White, Bill Lyons and Harry Holloman on a charge of Ku Kluxing. The Sheriff upon learning of this said he would resign before he would serve the papers and left the county to keep from doing so.
The parties learning that warrants were out for them all came in and gave themselves up to County Judge J. F. Taylor for trial except Lyons and Holloman. The Judge after hearing the evidence bound them over in a Two Hundred Dollar Bond taking their own recognizance. This is the trial at which the pistols were said to have been carried into the court room. It does not appear that the pistols were displayed or carried to intimidate the court but because the Oldhams were there (illegible) full of pistols and I was informed by a citisen of Elizabethtown that the Oldhams had a lot of guns stacked up ready for emergencies in the office of Ledbetter and Morris, their attorneys. At the trial the Belts did not deny the organization but claimed the object was to find the murderer of Luke Hambrink to relieve Logan Belt from the suspicion. While the Oldhams claimed it was organized for the purpose of driving the witnesses against Logan Belt out of the country and produced letters they claimed they received from them. Below find copies of letters:
Copy of letter sent to Tom and Jesse Oldham: "At home in all places but more especially in Hardin Co., Illinois.
"Gents: As we desire to be friendly with all parties we want in this epistle to warn you in event of your attempts on our friend Logan Belt, we the citizens of the above named place are fully determined to hold all of you to a strict accountability for any threat or attempt to injure our much esteemed friend, a Lieutenant in the Army during the last war. We the aforesaid citisens of the above named place are fully aware of the dastardly attacks made by the "odum stock" on account of our Lieutenant merely discharging his duty and sending one to his long home, who richly merited all he got, and as this letter means business, you had all better beware of us Ku Klux as we have eaten nothing of any consequence since the battle of Shiloh, and we are hungry! Beware of us fellows as the leaves are now on the trees, and as we are nothing but shadows and fearfully hungry, and as we are desirous of acting in Ku Klux style, we warn you to beware of the infuriated friends of Lieutenant Belt, who are and have been watching his welfare for some time. We are merely across the brink, but all attention, should anything occur to our esteemed friend, and be sure to accept of this as from a friend, as we do not wish to send any of you to Shut-Eye-Town, unless some depredation is committed upon the person or property of our friend. Now as you and a considerable number of your dirty acquaintances are mean enough to do anything on this earth, be sure to take this as a memento mori. And now farewell.
"From your only friend on this lower footstool.
A Citizen of the Above Place"
To Jack Oldham and the balance of the damned Oldham clan. You have two weeks to clear out or hell will be your doom."
The above is a detailed history of the troubles in Hardin Co. as near as I can get them. The whole affair is an effort on the part of Belt's friends to intimidate some of the witnesses to prevent their appearance at his trial.
The Criminal Docket shows only these two murders in three years, which is not a very bad state of affairs in the county. Hardly any county in the state but what double it or more. I find the citizens a quiet law abiding set of people and not terrorized in the least. The only trouble is in the incompetency of the officers and their utter neglect of duty. The Belts and Oldhams are bad men but have not as yet resisted any lawfull attempt to arrest them and all the county needs are officers that will do their duty.
T. E. Halls
July 8th, 1879
SYNOPSIS IN THE CASE OF THE
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
VS. LOGAN BELT
Thomas Oldham sworn - I knew Elisha T. Oldham, he was my brother, he was shot at my house on the night of December 27th, 1875. There was a party at my house that night, my house consists of two rooms each about 18 by 20 or 22 feet The house stood nearly north and south with a hallway running between the two rooms. The dance was in the south room and that is where the difficulty occured. I was at my yard gate when I heard a pistol fire in the house. I jumped the fence and went to the door of the house and saw my brother Elisha T. Oldham lying on the floor in the south room. I asked him who shot him and he said Log Belt shot him - Elisha T. Oldham was commonly called "Doc." - As I went in the house, Logan Belt passed out by me, after I went to "Doc" I ran out to see if I could see Belt but he was gone. I heard the testimony of Luellen Oldham before the Justice of the Peace at the preliminary examination of Logan Belt upon this charge. Belt was present and cross-examined the witnesses. Luella is now dead.
At that time she swore that Logan Belt and Wm. Lyons came together to my house the night of
the homicide, that Doc Oldham was the door-keeper and asked Lyons to pay the fare, twenty-five cents, that Lyons said Logan Belt would pay for him, that Doc then went to Belt and asked him if he was to pay Lyon's way, Belt said NO! and asked if all present had paid. Doc said Yes
and if Lyons did not pay he would have to put him out - Belt said what will you do with me. I've not paid and who will put me out? Doc said I will or I'll try it. At that time, Belt struck him (Doc) with knucks and ran him back to the fireplace and they both fell, Belt on top - Frank Dale pulled Belt off. "Doc" raised to his feet and Logan Belt drew his pistol and shot "Doc" - Belt struck "Doc" first and with knucks.
I also heard at the same time Robert Wingate testify. He is also dead. He testified as follows - That he (Wingate) was at the dance the night of the difficulty, Belt came in - Doc being door keeper asked him if he was to pay Lyon's way. He said NO! Belt said he had not paid his own way and who would put him out. "Doc" said he would or would try. Belt then struck him with knucks and ran him back to fire place and "Doc" fell. Belt was pulled off, and backed toward the door when "Doc" rose to his feet. Belt then fired and hit him. (Thomas Oldham continuing his own testimony.) I examined the wound the ball entered the left side to the left and two inches below the left nipple. Drs. Dean and Gantry attended him. Doc died between 9 and 10 oclock of the night of December 29th, 1875. Deceased was in his 17th year and weighed about 150 pounds. I talked with the deceased about an hour after he was shot. He seemed perfectly sensible and said that he had a deadly wound. This was between 9 and 10 oclock of the same night he was shot. The doctors came to see him between 10 and 11 oclock.
Jessie T. Oldham sworn - I saw my brother (the deceased) about one hour after he was shot. Although I encouraged him a little, he said that he was bound to die. The Doctors were there on
the night of the shooting the 27th. Doc died on the night of the 29th.
Elizabeth Hardister sworn - I saw the deceased about an hour after he was shot. I asked how he felt, he said he had a deadly wound. The next morning after day, I asked how he felt. He
said no better, that he would die. Just before he died about 2 hours, he talked about the difficulty. He said he was willing to die.
Cross Ex. - In this conversation he told me about the same in reference to the difficulty as he did in other conversations I had with him.
Morgan Tucker sworn - I saw Doc (the deceased) about 8 or 9 am the next morning after he was shot. He said he had no hopes of getting well from the way he felt.
Whereupon the Jury returned into court and the evidence proceeded before them.
Thomas Oldham recalled - And gave to the Jury the same evidence in reference to the condition of the deceased as was given to the court - and then proceeded. After Doc was shot, we put him on the bed in the same room where he was shot. The ball went through the left breast pocket of his coat. I asked Dock is he struck Def't? He said that when he (deceased) fell he gave Def't an awful kick or kicked him. He talked to Morgan Tucker and to my sister Elizabeth Hardister. I heard him say that Logan Belt shot him.
Elizabeth Hardister recalled - I know Logan Belt (pointed the defendent out to the jury). .Witness makes same statement about conversations with deceased and his condition to the Jury as made to the court and continues. The next morning after he was shot, I asked Doc how it occured and he said he went to Lyons for his fare and Lyons referred him to Belt. He then went to Belt and asked him if he was to pay for Lyons. Belt said NO! Doc then said he will have to go out. Belt said May be, By G-d, he (Belt) would have to go out. Doc replied, he didn't know. Belt struck him (Doc) near the shoulder and the side of his neck with a pair of knucks, and ran him back and he fell near the fire place with Belt on top of him, that he kicked Belt off and when he sprang to his feet, Belt shot him. He said he and Belt were good friends and did not know why Belt shot him. Where Belt struck him near the shoulder and side of his neck, I saw was black.
Jessie T. Oldham recalled - I know the Def't Logan Belt (Identified him to the Jury). I knew the deceased - he was my brother. I heard the shooting - I was at the outside gate. I went in the house. Belt was standing with his back to the north door of the south room - saw Doc lying on the floor to the left of the door. He was reclining on his elbow, saw the wound in the left side, hole through the vest pocket. I asked him how it occured. He said Charley Burkhart and himself were keeping door and were to collect 25 cents of each of them. Wm. Lyons and Belt came in, went to Lyons for his quarter, he said Belt was to pay for him - went to Belt and asked him if he was to pay for Lyons, he said he was not. Then Belt asked if all had paid. Doc said - All that are going to dance. Belt said If I don't pay will you put me out. Doc laughed and said he would try. Then Belt struck Doc and ran him back over somebody and fell. Doc said he kicked Def't off giving him an awful kick, and just as he raised to his feet, Belt drew his pistol and shot him, shooting occured in Hardin Co., state of Illinois, a little after dark. "Doc" died. I looked at Doc's neck and chest. Bruises on his neck and shoulder seem to have been caused by a blow.
Morgan Tucker sworn - I know the Def't Logan Belt (Identifies him to the Jury). I knew the deceased Elisha T. Oldham. I was present at the time of the difficulty. The defendant came into the room with Wm. Lyons. Doc kept door and had charge of the room. Burkhart asked Lyons for his fare and he said Belt would pay it for him. Doc then went to Belt and asked him if he was to pay for Lyons. Belt said NO! Doc said that Lyons would have to go out, that each one would have to pay 25 cents. Belt said he had not paid and who would put him out. Doc said he would try it and turned away when Belt struck him (Doc) on the head with knucks and shoved him back. "Doc" fell over a boy near the fire place when Belt struck Doc. They were standing within two or three feet of the north door of the room leading into the hall. Belt had hold of Doc with his left hand striking at him with his right at the same time. When they fell Doc kicked Belt off him and Belt went towards the door as though he were going out and as Doc rose up and got straight, Belt shot. I saw Doc buried. Doc said he asked Belt like a gentleman and had no hard feelings toward him.
Cross Ex. - When Doc was shot, he was looking over his left shoulder towards Belt and was laughing when the pistol fired. T did not say to Samuel Winn and Wm. Sheridan the night of the homicide that they were looking for Belt and if he came he would be filled so full of lead that he could not digest it either way.
Susan Goble sworn - know the defendant, was present at the dance. Belt pushed Doc down onto the hearth and struck him twice in the face. When they got up I think Doc kicked Belt on the shins and Belt pulled his pistol immediately and shot. Doc kicked Belt only once. Belt did not back as he pulled his pistol. They were in striking distance when Belt shot.
Lucinda Davis sworn - and testifies as follows: I heard a conversation at my house between my husband and Logan Belt the defendant. It was about fifteen months ago in the spring of 1878 when he told my husband in my hearing Doc raised his hand and said "I'm a bad one with them." Belt said "if it had not been for Lucy Mellon holding that place, I would not have shot him (Doc). I was indicted in Hardin County for buggery before Oldhams death but was acquitted."
F. P. Ledbetter sworn and testified as follows that he saw the shooting, saw Belt and Doc Oldham rise from near the fire place. I saw them raise up. Belt went back a few steps and shot. After firing, Belt started out of doors.
George W. Covert testified that he was acquainted with Logan Belt, that on the 27th day of December coming from Elizabethtown, Belt said to him that if the drip hung right he would kill himself a man before the sun raised next morning and at the same time flourished a pistol, that Belt said there was going to be a dance at Tom Oldhams that night and that he Belt was going there. Belt told me at Elizabethtown in the sheriff's office that he killed Doc Oldham. He told me time and again that he went to the dance purposely to kill Doc Oldham and did kill him. He talked to me about getting rid of the witnesses and made offers for me to kill Tom and Jesse Oldham. Said he wanted to run Frank Dale and Morgan Tucker out of the country.
The following questions were put to the witnesses by the defense - did you not swear at Esquire Waltons in a trial before him that you and Jesse Oldham carried grub to those who were concealed to waylay Belt and kill him? Which question was objected to by the people and the objection sustained by the court. After which the court permitted the defendant to ask the witness whether he did or did not carry grub and the following was put by the defense.
"Did you ever carry grub to those who were concealed to waylay the defendant Belt and kill him?" The witness answered, "I never did, or offer to," to which ruling of the court in sustaining the objection to such first question, the defendant then and there excepted , which exception is prayed to be incorporated in this bill of exceptions, which is accordingly done,
Henrietta Adams sworn and testifies.
I was at the dance and saw Mr. Belt strike Doc first blow, they fell about midway on the floor, saw Belt shoot Doc and Doc fell about middle of the floor. Belt got off of Oldham and when Doc got up, Belt fired.
Chas. D. Stevens sworn and testified.
Am coroner of Hardin Co., Ill., held an inquest over the body of Elisha T. Oldham on the 29th day of December AD 1875, saw a bullet hole about two inches below and to the left of the left nipple, thought I saw finger marks on the neck but found no other marks of violence.
Richard Bell sworn and testified.
I saw the first of the difficulty. Heard words between Belt and Oldham about the fare. When Belt drew back to strike, his arm struck mine - I went out of the house. Heard the pistol fire. Think Belt struck Doc on the shoulder.
William B. Ledbetter sworn and testified.
I saw Belt strike at Oldham. Think he missed and then ran him back and they fell near the fire place. Belt got off somehow and stepped back to the door and when Doc straigntened himself up, Belt shot him. When Belt was backing, he said Doc had knucks.
Franklin Dale sworn and testified.
Was present at the time of the killing of Doc Oldham, heard the dispute about the fare, saw Belt strike Dock and run him back and fall together near the fire. I pulled Belt off and he went backwards toward the door and said to "Doc" "You hit me with knucks." Doc said "By G-d, I'm a bad one with them." Just then Belt shot. Doc was doing nothing when Belt shot.
After the defense rested in chief, the People offered the following evidence in Rebuttal.
Thomas Douglas sworn and testified.
The reputation of Robert Sheridan for truth and veracity had been good, but if what I hear in the last year is true, his reputation is bad.
And Eli McDale testified.
Had been acquainted with the reputation of Robert Sheridan for a number of years and if the talk of the last year is true, his reputation is not good.
Geo. Douglas sworn.
Know the general reputation of G. L. Mead, it is bad. Robert Sheridans reputation, bad. Gee. W. Covert's reputation is not, but think I could believe him under oath.
John Jenkins sworn - would not believe Robert Sheridan, his general reputation is bad, Geo. W. Coverts reputation not Very good - would believe him under oath.
Gee. Oldham sworn - Lucinda Davis' reputation is good - would believe her under oath - Gee. W. Coverts reputation for truth is good. I would believe him under oath.
Jesse Oldham sworn - helped put deceased to bed. His pants had no hip pocket.
Thomas Oldham sworn - know the pants deceased had on when he was shot. They had no hip pocket. Lucinda Davis' reputation is good, would believe her under oath.
And this was all the evidence introduced in said cause on the part of the people to the introduction of all which evidence the defendant alleges are exception, which exception of the said defendant to the introduction of the peoples evidence is allowed by the court and the same is made a part of the record in said cause by this bill of exceptions.
And upon the part of the defendant, the following evidence was introduced.
Oliver P. Winn sworn.
I saw Oldham strike Belt. Belt then shoved Oldham backwards. When Oldham was talking to Belt he had his hand under his coat. Belt did not strike first, Oldham struck first. Gee. W. Covert's general reputation is bad. I would not believe him under oath.
William Lackey sworn.
I saw Belt have Oldham by the shoulder coming through the crowd. Oldham tripped and fell, Belt on top. Belt was pulled off and backed towards the door. Oldham got up cursing and had his hand up. Belt said you have got them d----d old knucks on. Oldham said Yes and I will use them. I am a bad one to use them. Oldham stepped one step towards Belt and Belt shot him. Oldham had his hand up. I am acquainted with the reputation of Geo. W. Covert, it is bad. I would not believe him under oath. Just as Oldham stepped forward, Belt then drew his pistol and shot him.
William Green sworn and testified.
I saw Oldham strike Belt first. Belt then pushed or ran him back towards the hearth. The next I saw was Belt retreating towards the door. Oldham got up and Belt said You have got knucks. Oldham held up his hand and said Yes and I am a bad one to use them, saw Belt rub his eyes when he said you have got knucks. Oldham was going toward Belt when Belt shot him. When the difficulty began, Oldham held his hand back under his coat. I know Gee. W. Covert's reputation, it is bad. I would not believe him under oath. Belt and Oldham were 5 or 6 feet apart when Belt shot.
Samuel B. Wilson sworn and testified.
The first I saw was Belt and Oldham down in the corner. This next is saw they were up about six or seven feet apart. Heard Belt say "He's got his knucks." Oldham said "Yes and I'm a bad one to use them." I know Gee. W. Covert's reputation. It is bad. I would not believe him under oath. I did not see the pistol used.
Robert Lackey sworn and testified.
I saw Oldham strike Belt first with a pair of knucks on the forehead. Belt then ran him back to the fireplace by the shoulders when they fell. Belt got up and retreated back toward the door. Belt said "Doc you've hit me with knucks and hurt me bad." Oldham said "Yes I hit you and I'm a d----d bad one to use them." Oldham then went towards Belt and got within 6 or 7 feet of Belt when Belt fired. Oldham was advancing on Belt when Belt fired. Saw Belt wipe the blood off of his forehead. I know Gee. W. Covert's reputation. It is bad. I would not believe him on oath. There was a hip pocket in Doc's pants, think I saw knucks on his hand.
Nora Ann Sheridan sworn.
I saw Oldham walk up to Belt. The next I saw they were moving back toward the fire place where they both fell. Frank Dale pulled Belt off. Belt stepped back and began to rub his face and said "Then d--n him. He's got knucks." Oldham said "Yes and I'm a bad one to use them." When Oldham said this, he had his right hand up but I saw no knucks. Belt kept backing toward and when Oldham got up and started toward him,
Cross Ex. - When Doc fell I raised his hand but saw no knucks, but saw a dirk knife attached to his suspenders. It was in a scabbard.
John Lackey sworn.
The first I saw Belt and Oldham fell by the fireplace. Don't know whether Belt was pulled off or not. Belt run back from Oldham. Belt said he struck me with knucks. When Oldham came out he was going towards Belt when Belt shot him. Belt could not have gotten out of the room if he had tried. I saw the handle of a knife when Oldham's shirt was taken off.
Thomas Jefferson Boyd sworn.
I saw Oldham and Belt fall. Belt got up and went near the door. Oldham got up and advanced two or three steps toward Belt and said "I'm right here." Heard Belt say something about knucks. Oldham said "Yes and I'm a bad one to use them." I have heard Covert's character discussed. I know his reputation is bad. I would not believe him on oath.
Robert Sheridan sworn.
I know Gee. W. Covert's general reputation. It is bad for truth and veracity. I would not believe him on oath.
Edward C. Wingate sworn.
I know the reputation of Gee. W. Covert for truth and veracity is bad. I would not believe him on oath.
Gee. L. Mead sworn.
I know the reputation of Gee. W. Covert in the neighborhood where he lived for truth and veracity. He left the county of Switzerland, State of Indiana, for killing other people's sheep.
William Winn sworn.
I know Gee. W. Covert's reputation in the neighborhood where he lived in for truth and veracity. I would not believe him on oath. Cross Ex. - He tells his tale differently now from what he did when he was shot.
Dr. R. J. McGinness sworn.
I made an examination of the wound on Belt's head. Seemed to be cut with a metallic substance. It was a clean cut just above the eyes near the centre of the forehead. I did not see the wound for about two weeks after the death of Oldham, the 14th day of Jan., 1876. It had then begun to heal by second intention.
Dr. J. M. Gantry, a witness for defendant sworn. I am a physician in regular practice. I examined the wounds of the deceased (Oldham) the night of the 27th of December 1875. I saw a wound in the left side two inches below the nipple. I heard him say that he had given Belt a lick that he would carry the mark of for some time.
Cross Ex. by people - He did not say a kick but a lick. It was the wound I examined that killed Elisha T. Oldham.
Henry Yeakey sworn. I know the reputation of Gee. W. Covert in the neighborhood where he lived. It is bad. I would not believe him on oath.
Dr. J. M. Gantry recalled by defendant.
I know Gee. W. Covert's reputation in the neighborhood where he lives is bad. I would not believe him on oath.
Elbert Dorsett sworn. I know the reputation of Gee. V. Covert in the neighborhood where he lives is bad. I would not believe him on oath. I know the reputation of Lucinda Davis in the neighborhood where she lives is bad. If she were interested in a case, I would not believe her on oath.
Gee. Dorsett sworn. I know Gee. W. Covert's reputation in the neighborhood where he lives is bad. I would not believe him on oath.
Hiram J. Belt sworn.
I saw Logan Belt the next day after Oldham was killed. He had a cut on his forehead. It was cut to the skull. I know the reputation of Lucinda Davis in the neighborhood where she lives is bad for truth and veracity. I would not believe her on oath.
Robert Sheridan recalled.
I knew Oldham the deceased. He was a little older than twenty-two or twenty-three years old.
James Belt sworn.
I know Lucinda Davis. Had a conversation with her about Belt's trial. She said she wanted to go to the trial and testify what Doc Oldham said.
G. W. Ratcliffe sworn.
I know Gee. W. Covert's reputation for truth and veracity in the neighborhood where he lives. It is bad. I would not believe him on oath. I do not know the reputation of Lucinda Davis.
James Smock sworn.
I had a talk with Doc Oldham about Logan Belt. He said he intended to kill Belt if he ever throwed himself in his way. Cross ex. - I do not know how he came to say so.
Mrs. Martha Smock sworn.
I had a talk with the deceased (Oldham) and he said that he would kill Belt. He told this a few weeks before his death.
Earl Sherwood sworn.
I was present at the preliminary trial of Belt and took down the evidence of James Winn since dead. He said Belt came to his house the night of the difficulty and wanted him to go to Jesse Oldhams to see about a suit he was managing for Jesse, but he did not go. That Belt came back to his house in about an hour bleeding from three cuts, one in the forehead and two below the eyes, that they bled so freely that he had to bandage them the second time. He also said that Oldham was quite a physical man.
Logan Belt the defendant sworn.
I went to Elizabethtown on the day of the difficulty to attend court. On getting home, I learned there was a dance at Tom Oldhams. I asked Winns to go with me to Tom's where we could see Jessie Oldham in regard to a writ in a suit which I was managing for Jessie. Winns did not go. Wm. Lyons went with me from Winns to Tom Oldhams where the dance was. We went in and Oldham, to my question if they had all paid, said yes, every g-----n one. I said I had not paid and did not want to take any part of the dance. He said if you don't pay I'11 put you out. He then struck me with a pair of knucks. I then caught him by the hand and throat and shoved
him across the room and threw him down, he striking me all the time. Someone pulled me off and Oldham kicked me in the stomach. I backed towards door and said You have hit me with knucks. Oldham got to his feet and came toward with his hand above his head saying "Yes and I am a d----d bad one to use them." When he got within 5 or 6 feet of me, I shot him,
I backed to the door but could not get out (for the crowd and when he advanced me it appeared as if he would attack me again with knucks. I had not carried a pistol for several years excepting when going to leave the neighborhood. I thought Oldham was a good friend of mine. My dizziness and weakness at the moment came from the wound on my head which bled profusely. I
had no malice towards Oldham. I fired my pistol to save my life. At the time I fired, Oldham would only have to make one jump to be on me with his knucks. After he struck me and kicked
me in the stomach, I was weak and dizzy.
The propositions sworn to by Gee. W. Covert as having been made by me to him are wholly false. I never made any such propositions. I never had any such talk with Lucinda Davis that I killed Oldham on account of Lucy Mellon. I never told Gee. W. Covert that if the drip hung right I would kill me a man before morning. His story of offers I made him are absolutely false. In fact, I never told him I went to Oldhams to kill Doc Oldham. Nor did I ever have any confidences with him.
Joseph Logsdon No. 1 sworn.
I knew Oldham, suppose he would weigh 150 or 155 pounds in 1873 when he worked for me. He seemed about 18 or 19 years of age.
The following witnesses first being sworn swear that the reputation of Robert Sheridan in the neighborhood where he lives for truth and veracity is good and that they would believe him on oath.
Gee. W. Ratcliffe
Dr. J. M. Gantry
E. C. Wingate
State of Illinois
I Joseph F. Tolen, Clerk of the Circuit Court of said county, do hereby certify that the foregoing 28 pages contain the substance, the important facts and parts, of the testimony in the case of the People etc. vs. Logan Belt, as embodied in the bill of exceptions on file in my office
Re witness whereof I hereunto sign my name and affix the seal of said court at office this 1st day of January AD 1883.
J. F. Tolen, Clerk
Logan Belt was indicted on the 4th day of April, 1876, at the April term of the Hardin County Circuit Court, for the murder of Elisha T. Oldham. He was tried at Shawneetown, Ill. at a special term in July, 1879, and was sentenced to fifteen years on the 22nd day of July, 1879. John Q. A. Ledbetter and Wm. S. Morris were the counsel for the state.
The following is a copy of the verdict reached in Gallatin County as it appears on the records there.
"We the jury find the defendant guilty of manslaughter and fix his punishment by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for fifteen (15) years.
J. R. Martin, Foreman''
Before the trial of the killing of Doc Oldham, Luke Hambrink, an important witness, was killed. Nothing became of this until after Logan was pardoned by Governor Oglesby after spending just six years to the day in the penitentiary. The trial for the killing of Luke Hambrink is given in full in The Life of Logan Belt.