xt79319s2398 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt79319s2398/data/mets.xml Clutter, William, d. 1810. 1810  books b923431c6292009 English J.W. Browne : Cincinnati, Ohio Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. A concise statement of the trial & confession of William Clutter, who was executed on Friday the 8th of June, 1810, at Boone Court-House, Kentucky for the murder of John Farmer. To which is prefixed a short sketch of his life. text A concise statement of the trial & confession of William Clutter, who was executed on Friday the 8th of June, 1810, at Boone Court-House, Kentucky for the murder of John Farmer. To which is prefixed a short sketch of his life. 1810 2009 true xt79319s2398 section xt79319s2398 


WHO WAS EXECUTED Oil 2'rid a. y thc 8th jukx, iSJO,






* TA< %f tin it death.r-  ~  ^

   There has not taken place on these western waters, for several yearn past, an event which has so much raised the sensibility of every do scription of citizens, as that which we are now handing to the public*. As crimes of such magnitude seldom escape the vengeance of the Law* so we cannot but adore the providence of that God, who brings abouS the discovery of the perpetrators, by the most simple means. When the conscience is truly awakened with a sense of guilt, 1% can only b$ cased by a candid and open confession* 

ILLIAM CLUTTER, the unhappy fubjefc of

WW thefe memoirs, was a native of the ihte of Jerfey. When an infant, he loft his mother, and in a few months Was committed to the care and direction of a cruel, baibarous and mo(r unprincipled ftep-mother (a circumftancc to which he attributes all his misfortunes.) Every (Up of his lite, from about eight years of age, has been marked with a feres of petty thefts, frauds and felonies. His father's family removed to Pennfylvania in his infancy.   He left his father's houfe when he was about 16 years of age, in a canoe which he had ftolen, and defcended the Monongahela river. Hi   lather purfued and overtook him, and having made fatisfac-tion for the thefc, it blew over. He a^aln ftarted, and itv that rout Hole feveral articles from d IT-rent perfons ; was once apprehended, but fuffred to el cape. He married a young woman of good reputation, but was obliged to leave her to efcape the grafp ui the law ; and on his return, ab< ut eighteen months afterwards, found Hie had juft married another perfon* He afterwards married another woman, but was obliged on the fame account, to leave her alfo. Ho formed an idea of going down the river to be out of the reach of juftice, and find fome peace of mind, which the impreflions of guilt and apprehenfion of punifhment were continually harraffing. This led him to the Ohio river ; but inftead of finding his ideas realized, inftead of peace 2nd fafety, he became the prey of new temptations, which terminated in bloodfhed and murder-Alter the horrid tranfacTion, he p^ffjd on down the river to the Red-banks, in Henderfon county, Kentucky, where he proceeded to dsfpofe of the cargo at fuch low prices as created fufpicion. He was fliortly afterwards arreiied and indicted for fraud and theft, being found in pofleffion of Farmer's goods, and property of Dr. L C. Morris in care of the deceafed and difpofiog of them, and for Healing Farmer's mare, but evidence of his guilt becoming flronger, a nolle


frofequt was entered by the attorney for the commonwealth, arsd he was removed to Boone county, to take his trial fof the murder*


On his trial, it appeared in evidence, that at Pittsburgh lie was hired by John Farmer, to affift him in navigating hit tx>a% which was laden with merchandize, from that place to the mouth of Kentucky river   That they were the only perfons on board the boat;   that the night they paflfed Cincinnati, Farmer was murdered : but Clutter had always per-fjfted in faying he was murdered when afleep, by the owner of another boat, which laftud to them that night. It was alfo proved and admitted, that he was found in polTeffion of the laid boat and goods at the Red banks on the Ohio   that be called himfclf John Farmer   that he was making fale of the goods at reduced prices which gave rife to rhofe fuf-pjcions which led to his arreft. A body, fuppofed to be Farmer's, was pofittvely proven to have been found dead, by one witnefs, bearing the moft evident marks of violence* But the identity thereof was rendered extremely doubtful, from two circumftances :   the linen in which the body was found, was marked with the letters G. K. and the letter K was alfo on a fmall knife, found in his pocket. There was, however, forne flrong corroborating teltimony : It appeared from feveral refpeclable witnelTes, that the fize, the age, the color of the hair and form of the mouth and teeth, of this dead body, correfponded with thofe of John Farmer.

From this evidence, the attorney for the commonwealth, urged to the court and jury, with his ufual ability, but- with candor and huaiamty, that though he had not been able to produce a finale witnefs who faw the fact; yet that that cir-cumfhntii! proof which he had adduceJ, amounted to a violent and irrtfiltible prefumption, and from which no other reafonable concfufion could be drawn, than that the prifontr a: the bar was the murderer of John Farmer, and confe-cjuenily guilty of all the material averments in the indictment.

On   he contrary, it was infifted, for theprifoncr, that the body of Farmer was not proven to have been found dead    that the only marks by which it cou'd have been identified In that mutilated /tate3 preyed it to be the body of a very 

different perform That laying this part of the evidence out of the queftion, the 00ly proof which remained, refpecting the dea  h of Farmer, was the conferfions of the prifoner, which, when taken tuge her, purged bim of thtfacl* It was slfo urged, that notwithftanding his conduct had been fraudulent and highly reprehenfible, in a (Turning the name of Farmer, and in taking poflefiion of the boat and goods, ftil it was not a crime puinfhable with death ; nor did it prove liim a murderer*   V. might conGgn him to everlafting in* famy, and for a time, to the penitentiary houfe : but that tiemuft be convicted on an indictment charging him with that offence. That under all the circumftances, taken in a legal, if not moral point of view, doubts did exift, and that it was one of thofe extraordinary cafes, in which the jury svere bound by law to acquit, though ftrongly imprefled with the guilt of the prifoner.

During this trial, which laited feveral days, a greater contour fe of fpectators than ufual attended, all of whom appear* cd to be tranfported with indignation againft the prifoner ; fb much fo that there was every reafon to expect, a fair and impartial trial could hardly be expected. 1 would not be understood as intending to cenfure the court and jury who fat on this particular trial. The jury was compofed of mert of the firft refpectability in the county, and as evidence of their humanity and impartiality, they appeared much affected with the circumitance of their being compelled, from the evidence, to pronounce a verdict of Guilt* The two afliftant judges who prefided, difcharged their duty with impartiality, dignity and ability* It was, however, matter of regret, that they were deprived of the fervices of the circuit judge, who for practical experience and foundnefs of judgment, is not f urpaffed.


Th* particular circumftances of committing the murder, ss related by himfelf, are thefe :   After palling Limeftone, on the way to Cincinnati, his mind was conitantly harraffed with the temptation to murder Mr. Farmer, and take pof-feffion of his property. An opportunity offered by Farmer's lying on his back afleep in the boat, and no boat or human being near at the time   that after combating with the temptation a locg while, he at lad lifted an ax, and Md k 

for the fpace of a minute over bis head, and at length (Truck the fatal bloiv between his eyebrow and hair   when the poor creaiure opened his eyes, and looking wiflrully at h'm, cried out "Lord! Lord! fee Lord f7 and immediately expired. He wrapped the body in a blanket, tied it round the neck and feet, and threw it overboard* He palled whe night in cleaning the boat, and afterwards aflfumed the name of Farmer, and difpofed of the property principally at the Ked-banks, Henderfon county, Kentucky*

CONFESSION. The following is a literal copy of the confefiion of *he prifoner, in court, which was written by one of his counfel, and read at his fpecial requeft, when afked if he had any thing to fay why judgment lhould not be pronounced againft bim..

*' I am called upon to fay, why fentence of death mould not be pronounced on me according to law. I have been indulged with a fair and impartial triaJ : a jury of my country, of my own choice and feleclion, after rood patiently hearing the evidence, the law and the ar^utnents, rnve with candor and with great juftice, pronounced me guilty of being the murderer of John Farmer. The juftnefsof the charge, the correctnefs of the verdicT, and the confeioufoefs of guilt, render it impcffible that I fhould fay ought againft the c< urt pronouncing that judgment. The near approach of dearrf, that enemy and terror ot man, and the gre^t uncertainty of what is beyond the grave, have at length awakened me to a due fenfe of feeling. But however galled with the chains, and worn out with a long and tedious imprifonmfnt   however fatiatcd in viewing the walls of a cold, a dark and loath-fome pnfon   however like a torrent new dangers and d flw cuicies have rufhsd upon me   however borne down with) grief and alarmed with my Tuuation   however many my crimes   however dark and unnatural their nature, and aim-fon their color   there is a circumfhnce which giv^s me more pain ihan all : I now behold, dreflfed in weeds of mourning, her, whom with one fatal ftroke, I made a widow, her whofd children I orphanized, and whofe property I converted to the mod wicked and fraudulent purpofts. Candor now compels me to acknowledge, that in me Ihe beholds the murderer of her husband/he who was the companion of her boibm, the father of her children ; their bell and deareft 
   friend. And however to he regretted the circumfbnce    however irreparable the lefs, that which is pa (Ted is not to be recalled. And inafmuch ?s 1 am in a few hours to atone for the offence with my blood, I truft and hope that (he and her connections will grant me their forgivenefs; a circum-ilance which will afford me the greateft earthly happinefs    will be a fweet and fausfactcry confolation in the trying houc of death ! that cannot but appal the ftcuttft heart, though clothed with innocence, and furrounded with friends and connexions. What then fhallbe rny feelings   where ;s that tongue or where that pen which could defcribe them    with what degree of fortitude ffiall I meet that grim meffeni ger, with my hands ftained with the blood of a friend, who had never done me the flighted earthly injury !

u I now take this opportunity, in the prefence of my God, and in the face of the world, thus publicly to implore the forgivenefs of mankind.in general, and to declare that I bear nought of prejudice or malice againft any. I mcft fin-cerely forgive the court, the jury, the profecutor, and the witnefft s who appeared againft me; from a full conviction, that each treated me with all that candor and humanity, which, under the circumftances, I had a right to expect* Should I be fo fortunate as to obtain the forgivenefs of thofe whom I have mod injured, my next object (hall be that of endeavoring to make my peace with God; fo as to meet death with Chriflian fortitude.   And to obtain this, I have a hi pe fuperior to any other earthly confederation. On the following declarations of my Saviour, I fhall not only repole in confidence, but with rapture :   " Ask and ye fhall receive, fef k and ye fhall find, knock and it fhall be opened unto you." I trult and pray that though my fins be as fcarlet, he will make them white as fnow   though they be red like crimfon, they fhall be like wool. In fhort, I will fpend the. remainder of my days in penitence and devotion, fo that I may die the death of a chriilianV'


On the morning of the 8th of June, the day appointed for the execution, at an early hour, the people began to collect ; and between 12 and l o'clock the concourfe was very great. About one o'clock, two rifle companies, which had been ordered out upon the cccafion, were marched to the jail i when, after feme preparatory regulations were made. 
   the prifoner was brought forth, at'ender] by-tlie fWfF and two clergymen ci ihe Baprift afTLciation* furrounckd by tha rifle companies, and con dueled ro the gallows ; where ha mounted a waggon drawn up for ne purpefe. The fher.fF and clergymen aifo mounted with him. Each of the clergymen fpike a few minutes, in the rocil pathetic and tmpref-five language, and went to prayer with him* The pi fane? was then asked whether he had any thing fu   ther ro communicate. He anfwered in the negative, bowed to the people^ and at half pail one o'clock, was launched iniQ m awfd > eternity. ; 
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