xt7t7659db7b https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7t7659db7b/data/mets.xml Brown, William H. 1853  books b92kf223b7b7518532009 English N/A : Cincinnati, Ohio Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. A brief history of the life, trial and conviction of William H. Brown, of Morgan County, Ky. for the murder of Morris Higerty, an Irish peddler. Together with the confession of Brown. text A brief history of the life, trial and conviction of William H. Brown, of Morgan County, Ky. for the murder of Morris Higerty, an Irish peddler. Together with the confession of Brown. 1853 2009 true xt7t7659db7b section xt7t7659db7b 
A B R I E F H I S TO B Y
OF T H E

\

LIFE TRIAL

ANDCONVICTIOS
   OF

WILLIAM. H. BROWN,
OF MORGAN CttUOT, K Y.

   s-OR T E E

M URDER OF MORRIS
AN IRISH P E D D L E R .

HIGERTY,

TOGETHER

WT-E

T H E CONFESSION OF

BROWN

   4

CINCINNATI, 1 8.5 3..

  
  
INTRODUCTION.

H ^ v r s a t o attone for one of the greatest crimes against my fellow man, that of taking from him that precious b oon, w hich God alone can g i v e ; and which no earthly p ower c an restore back again,, a nd t hat atonement, having to b*   made according to God's holy law, " l i f e tor l ife, a nd blood for blood." I have no right to complain, a nd d o not, soon I a m to suffer the penalty of an insulted and outraged law, upon the gallows ; and as I have nothing now to bind me to earth, and nothing to hope i n but the mercy of my Heavenly F ather, I f eel it due to* myself, to my friends, and to the world, t hat I gjve a b rief history of my l ife, t ogether w ith a p lain u nvarnished statement of facts, w ith the steps that have led me on i n r apid p rogression i n crime, up to the- time of my incarceration in this g loomy c ell. A n d though, my brief career ha^been marked b y -       kediwsjkjissipation a nS crime, at .almost evetytgtep. Yet, I ^* thatthepublic, and especially that portion of it towipni this J k\is d edicated, w i l l believe me honest i n my r ecital, w h i l e ! w ritf a ot J TiJjilLwgvy- o f a dying hour, and a judgment day. - . b ut
s a6

T he motives that impel me to this course,'is that others may t ai 1     w arning, a nd shun the fatal rocks upon which I have' s u r i c k , ' a n y ^    w recked all ray prospects of worldly happiness, and by which. . h ave brought shame and disgrace upon myself and friends ; ret d ered my wife a widow, and my child a premature orphan. A n d !    TTui-l-re the h ope, t hat my history w ill serve as a warning to parents . 1 t o give their children proper moral culture, by t raining t hem i n thf / f\ w ay they should go, that in after years they may not depart from it*. A n d also to young men especially, that they flee f rom dissipation of e very k ind ; for assuredly the end thereof is death. N o sentiment e ver uttered by the pen of Inspiration itself, was m ore e mphatically t rue, t han the declaration of the apostle when he s a i d " the wages o f s in i s d e a t h , " and while I c all u pon my fellow*men, to take warning b y my sad fate. I hope t hey w ill a ttach no ignomy to mv innocent wife and c hild, a nd that the community, though justly incensed against myself^ w ill t reat my wife, and especially my darghter, w ith t hat s ympathy which thefr forlorn and unhappy condition requires.
Q c

A n d w hile I feel it due to myself, frankly to disclose m y . o w n t iimcs i n.the following p ages, I feel the duty equally imperative upon

  
<1 V me te show to the world as far as practicable, fbe oonnecfiens e ther* h ave had in bringing me to this tragic-end. A n d should some f eel s ore, tinder the disclosures I may make, they must remember it is t heir o wn (kings, which must stare tbem f ull i n the face h i the -Judgment D a y . There is this difference however, between thom   nd m y self. I nrtst suffer tkilaw'-s utmost penalty. While those w ho s timulated a nd urged me on to the dreadful deed, goes u nwhipt of    Justice. O nly in so far as conscience f rom his throne thunders upan t hem. A nd I w ould say to the citizens of Morgan County, particularly, a nd the community generally, to be on their guard. F o r after my    execution there w ill be men left in your midst, who are steeped t o t o tlve very nose a nd chin, in the blackest of crimes, and are ever U pon the alert, seeking opportunities for the perpetration. IXIA^-H-JE

"2S

  
L I F E ANB

CONFESSION.

*" I

It

I K g i v i n g a h i s t o r y of m y -short but eventful l i f e . T h e des i r e w i t h m y readers w i l l be but i n accardance w i t h n ature, t o jj k n o w the place of ray notoriety, m y parentage, educat i o n , e tc. I w as bern i n M o r g a n C o u n t y , K y , , at m y F a t h e r s ' r e s i dence, t en m i l e s east c f W e s t L i b e r t y , i n August 1825. Mak i n g -me now 28 years o l d . I a m tke eldest -son of E l i j a h Brown. M y M o t h e r is the daughter of the K e v ' d . W i l l i a m C offee. M y parents ere i n moderate circumstances, but of c o m m o n respectability, so far as I k n o w , and respectably connected on both m y father and mothers side. M y f ather being i n moderate circumstances, and bwt l ittle a ttention b eing paid to education i n the neighborhood he lives i n v m y education was greatly neglected. I a c q u i r e d enough " N N U M . - h o w e v e r , to eaafele me to read and write a l i t t l e . A s to m o r a l or religious t r a i n i n g a t home-, I h a d none. I was not     ^ S g K T ^ t k a t i t w a s w r o n g to curse a n d Bwear, and i t was but s eldom that I-heard the mame of G o d made use ot, o r t l y i i c     blasphemy, or profanity. M y father was i n the d a i l y habit of p rofanity ; h ence b y easy steps I s c o n b ecame a n adept i n the u se of profane language.    , had m y infam lips been 'taught    co p ray, w h e n f i r s t t k e y c o u l d l i s p a S a v i o u r ' s name ; h o w different n o w w o u l d have been m y situation. B u t i n the r a i s i n g o f m y fathers f a m i l y , so -far as I (know, G o d was not m a l l t h e i r t houghts ; neither w a s fear b efore t heir e yes. JNTo f a m i l y a l t a r erected around, w h i c h to cluster and w o r s h i p ; m family p rayers-; n o . Kind p arental v oice to say ; m y son, t hin i s t he w a y of h o l i n e s s , c ome l et cs w a l k i n k . N o dear r eader, ao^ these were blessings and privileges to w h i o h I w a r a n e ntire stranger. B u t l i k e t he w i l d a sses c o k , I grew t(? m a n h o o d , careless and unconcerned, g r o w i n g more hardened a nd m ature i n c r i m e every day. I never heard m y father address a petition to the throne of grace, either for h i m s e l f or a n y of his f a m i l y . H o w greatly blessed are those c h i l d r e n

  
w h o have p r a y i n g p a r e n t s , w h o d a i l y h o l d them up to a throne o f grace, on the wings of f a i t h , s uch are not l i k e l y t o be- l e d c aptive b y the d e v i l , at his^ w i l l . I o c c a s i o n a l l y attended p r e a c h i n g and s o m e t i m e s h a d s ome g ood i mpressions under the m i n i s t r y o f the w o r d , but h a v i n g n o h o m e t eachings and no pious associates these impressions w ere l i k e t he m o r n i n g c l o u d , and the ' e a r l y d e w that passeth away. H a v i n g a c c o m p l i s h e d the d a y s o f m y m i n o r i t y , I left m y f ather's house a n d s oon b ecame r e m a r k a b l y fond o f d r i n k i n g , g a m b l i n g , s hooting and passing counterfeit m o n e y , a n d I w i l l h ere say i n justice to m y father, that, n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g he n ever taught m e the w a y s of righteousness, y e t he never i n structed o r encouraged me i n these t h i n g s , and I presume but l ittle d reamed of the sad fate to w h i c h m y c r i m e s and d i s s i pation w a s m a d l y r u s h i n g me o n . N o t h i n g w o r t h y o f note o ccurred i n the h i s t o r y o f m y l i f e f r o m t h i s p e r i o d t i l l a bout t he 25th o f D e c e m b e r 1850, save that I s t i l l k ept u p m y d r i n k i n g , g a m b l i n g and o c c a s i o n a l l y passing s m a l l s ums o f c ounterfeit m o n e y . About this time I married Margaret F , W i l l i a m s , d aughter of J o h n W i l l i a m s E s q . o f t h i s county, a g entleman o f h i g h standing and respectability. I t h e n m o v e d t o a f a r m I owned upon the r o c k house fork of L i c k i n g r i v e r , a nd r aised t w o crops there, but M r s . W i l l i a m s m y m o t h e r ' - i n l a w d y i n g , I m o v e d b a c k to m y f a t h e r - i n - l a w ' s , S q u i r e W i l l i a m s a n d l i v e d there t i l l i n D e c e m b e r 1 8 5 2 . I s ay that n o t h i n g v e r y remarkable T i a d o cciire^Lia. f heTifs^ t ory o f m y life from the t i m e I left m y fathers house, up t o t his t i m e , and yet it m a y be w e l l t o note the a p p l i a n c e s , or w a y s and means b y w h i c h I have been prepared and led on s tep b y step, to the f atal h qur that sealed m y e a r t h l y d o o r n . T h e first p roposal ever made to m e to e ngage i n dealing._ifT c ounterfeit money to any great extent, w a s made t o m e i n W e s t L i b e r t y , by James A . D a y , a citizen of M o r g a n     o u r i t y , l i v i n g i n the north side of the county; n e a r T r i p l e t t . He u rged me to take f r o m h i m w h a t e v e r amount I w i s h e d a n d w h e n it w a s disposed of, p a y h i m h a l f the a m o u n t . I think i t i s l i k e l y i f it h a d been paper currency I w o u l d have t a k e n s ome, b ut it w a s counterfeit s i l v e r , and I w a s a f r a i d o f i t a n d d i d n ot take a n y . ' A f t e r t h i s I h a d various propositions to d e a l i n counterfeit m o n e y f r o m m e n not residents o f this S t a t e : O n e of these o ffers w a s made by t w o m e n f r o m the State o f O h i o , w h o s e n ames were E d w a r d W i l l i a m s , a n d J o n a t h a n M a y s . These

  
9 m e n stayed several days at m y fathers, and r u n horses, they o ffered me a n y amount I w a n t e d , but I t ook n one f r o m t h e m . I p ayed M a y s ten d o l l a r s to learn me the m a r k s o n cards, he l earned m e w e l l , a nd f r o m h i m I learned m o r e about cards t h a n e ver I learned f r o m a n y one else. W h i l e these m e n w ere i n W e s t L i b e r t y M a y s p l a y e d w i t h t wo m e n i n that p l a c e w h o were celebrated g a m b l e r s , but t h e y w o n off h i m . T h e y t h e n went to B l o o m i n g t o n , 12 m i l e s east o f W e s t L i b e r t y , m y s e l f g o i n g a l o n g . W e there p l a y e d w i t h a y o u n g d octor l i v i n g a t that place, M a y s w o n off h i m $ 1 6 , 0 0 , and I w o n f r o m 14 to 18 dollars. W i l l i a m s w h o c a m e w i t h M a y s s l i p p e d off f r o m the t a v ern w here he boarded and never p a i d h i s b i l l . M a y s r e m a i n ed several weeks, m y s e l f i n h i s c o m p a n y t h e ' most o f the t i m e d r i n k i n g - a n d g a m b l i n g w i t h a ny and a l l w h o w o u l d e n gage w i t h u s. I w a s a l w a y s ready to g a m b l e w i t h a n y one _ a nd it w a s to m e a source of the highest gratification to get a round t he card t a b l e , for I had learned the art so w e l l I w a s a lmost sure to w i n . A b o u t this t i m e I c o m m e n c e d r e c e i v i n g s ums o f counterfeit money f r o m citizens o f this county, these s ums it is true were not large at f irst, b ut t h e y served to l e a d m e o n step by step to larger c r i m e s . I began to conclude t hat 1 w as pretty expert i n the business, and w e n t into i t upon a l arger -ecale. I h a d not the nerve, h o w e v e r , to offer to pass '.. iigr  *|nt first p r e p a r i n g m y s e l f b y getting under the i n f l u ence o fj l i q u o r . W h e n thus prepared I b ecame o ne o f the i oiTuosT^rrel^at t he business, a n d m y heart d e l i g h t e d i n i t , b ut i t was under the influence o f w h i s k e y , that a l l p e r v a d i n g , d estroyer. T h e r e w a s a m a n w h o professed to be a v e r y p a r t i c u l a r f riend o f m i n e , a great g a m b l e r (and I l o o k e d o n a l l g a m blo*^Ts' f riends,) b y the n a m e o f B u c k P r a t e r , t h e n a resident " S P f h i s , b ut now o f G r e e n u p county, w h o l e d m e f r o m v i c e t o v i c e , ' a n d f r o m c r i m e to c r i m e , u n t i l I w a s c o m p l e t e l y h ardened a n d thought I w a s h a r d to beat, at either g a m b l i n g orcounterfeiting. ., i F r o m t he y e a r 1848 I h a d another p a r t i c u l a r f r i e n d o f the s ame stamp, W i l l i a m R . H o l b r o o k s , l i v i n g n ear B l o o m i n g ton. H e professed great f r i e n d s h i p for m e , and a l w a y s f u r nished m e w i t h a ny a m o u n t o f counterfeit m o n e y I w a n t e d . I h ave received a great deal of this k i n d o f m o n e y f r o m h i m , 1 a lso received a great d e a l of spurious g o l d and s i l v e r f r o m h i m f or w h i c h I p a i d h i m , t h i r t y c ents to the d o l l a r , and t h e n

ft

  
to

t his professed friend of mine led me on in l ike m anner as d id B uck P rater. A nd I w i l l take the liberty here of dropping a word o f counsel and admonition to my particular friends, Prater and H olbrooks, also my other friend's of l ike s tamp, to take warning by me, and at once, and forever break off from these unlawful and soul destroying practices, lest they share my sad and wretched fate, confined i n a loathesome gloomy cell loaded w ith c hains ironed fast to the floor, and though the c ell i s s mall i ndeed yet not the liberty of half this s mali r oom, the doors made doubly secure by bolts and bars, and then a constant guard of nine or ten men around my prison n ight and day, firing off their muskets evening and morning o ver and around my dungeon home. W h i l e l a m w riting i n these i ron chains without either chair or table, having the bitter reflection that you and just such other friends as you, by y our counsels brought me here, and have the bitter reflection t hat I a m under the sentence of death, and that justly, and m a few days am to be suspended between the heavens and. the e arth, a spectacle for men to gaze u pon, and take warning by, and should you have the nerve to stand by and see me suffer the penalty of the law, remember you led me on, and that sooner or later (unless you repent and reform,) the w r y ctap w hich y ou have so remorselessly placed to my l i p s , " J J O U y ourselves must d rink to the very dregs, and should it be y a herse w e r t h .fifty or s i x t y d o l l a r s , but he w h o l l y f a i l e d i n t he h o u r o f need 5 a n d i t w i l l h e r e m e m b e r e d that B i l l / . never c o u l d be got into C o u r t to   teetify t hough h e t ook She h orse to do i t . I w i s h m y friends to collect the value o f the h orse f r o m k i m and a p p l y i t e i t h e r to the p a y m e n t o f m y just d ^bts o r the benefit    f m y c h i l d . ' B u t . ,1 w i l t n o w give a h i s t o r y i n . d e t a i l , as h r i e f as the n a ture o f the c ase w i l l a d m i t , o f the p e r p e t r a t i o n o f the a w f u l c r i m e for w h i c h I a m n o w under sentence o f d e a t h . O n ,  he n ight o f the 5 t h o f D e c e m b e r , 1852 I was" a t a c o r n h u s k i n g , . at t h e widow. Jane W i l L i a m ' s w here I learned that there w a s a n I r i s h p edlar i n the neighborhood w h o h a d a considerable amount of money. J a m e s H . W i l l i a m s t o l d me h e seen h i m h a v e s i x or seven h u n d r e d d o l l a r s .at l e a s t ; l i e s a i d h e s a w t hree one hundred d o l l a r b i l l s a ud several fifty d o l l a r b i l l s . A f t e r t h i s conversation w i t h J a m e s H . W i l i i a m s and H a y d e a W i l l i a m s m ade a proposal to m e , that i f I w o u l d go w i t h h i m a n d t ake m y g u n he w o u l d k i l l t he peddler a n d give me-    f t j

  
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d ollars o f the money. I do -not remember what answer I m ade h i m ; but I did not have any idea of doing it myself. Throw you see the first proposition of murder and robbery wa'snot made by me, as proved on my t rial, but was made to me and that by one of the p rincipal witnesses against me. T h e W i l l i a m ' s all talked about the peddler and his money i sncb more- than I did. James H . and Hayden W i l l i a m s Bpth s aid they did not think it would be any harm to rob the p eddler.   s he could never have that much money unless he had got it i n the same way by robbing some one else.. Anderson W i l l i a m s then said it was no harm to rob any body w ho followed robbing for it was a business that no honest man would f ollow- James Lacey then stated that he had seen the same pedler* on Sunday, the day previous, at Silas N ichels, a nd that .te- said he was afraid to travel on, lest he should be robbed a nd so lay by on Sunday; but that on Monday he concluded t o go his way, and it was on Monday previous to the night of torn s hucking that the peddler stopped at James H . ' W i l l i a m ' s a nd a cid'a table l inen, w hen W i l l i a m s said he had seen his m oney' and it was op.tha'fc night the peddler stayed at W i l l i a m W i l l i a m ' s a l l night. W e shucked corn t i l l about eleven   "clock t hat night, during which time there was a good d eal   >f.liquor.drank and nearly a l l the company was drunk, and p retty-much the|whole time the pedler and his money^as the t heme of conversation by s ome, a nd I was drank j n y ^ 3 - - ^ " t he conversation of the company being almost entirely about t he,pedler and his money, robbing h i m , etc., I was f inally, i n     m y , drunken state, tempted to engage i n the dreadful deed, A f t e r w e left the corn shucking several of us concluded to go l iunting, hut did hot proceed far t ill w e stoped, built up a fire, smd stayed and played cards t i l l n early'day. Hayden W i l liams, J ames H . W i l l i a m ' s , ' A ndrew W i l l i a m s and ray?^lf were the company, and also some others. W h i l e at this fire w e drank a quart of liquor, which kept us all drunk.
:

H ayden W i l l i a m s stated on, oath oh m y t rial that w h i l e w e were at this fire, I plucked h i m and took h i m to one side, and proposed to h i m to go w i t h me and k i l l the peddler, this i s not true. T h e fates are the.se, h e ' plucked me to one side, and t hen, for the second time proposed to me for us to go and k i l l a nd rob the peddler, it was theh'wemade the arrangement h e was to go w ith me, I was to shoot h i m arid we were to d i vide the profits, .Hayden said i f it' came u p he would swear m e clear, so that I never would suffer by i t ' ; But he got sodrunk'that h e was not able to' go, arid I -'am satisfied that his-

  
13

extreme Intoxication disablingjhim from going is trie o ralyreaeon that he was not f ully a n accomplice in the deed and stood e qually g uilty w ith m yself i n' the awful crime which I must soon expiate upon the gallows. I I t hen determined to' have a l l the money myself, t ook a, " Fresh charge of liquor l ulled m y bottle at Harvey W i l l i a m s , }nd started for the,spot I intended to way lay h i m at, I went >ast W i n . W i l l i a m s t o see i f I could see anything of h i m . Sot seeing h i m however, I thought about going in and trading ome w i t h h i m , and let h i m have a counterfeit tea dollar b i l l , s H arvey W i l l i a m s desired me to do, but 1 did riot do i t . t l en went on to some o ld waste house on the rp&d, a nd sloped there for a short time, and thought it possible he might *ave passed on. ~ & t h e n went on up the creek, from the old house, near to the f ooftof the h i l l , and shot my gun off into a beach tree on the right\ h and side of the road, threw the f lint out of m y gun, a nd resolved I would not k i l l the peddler. I went on s ome d istance to a d eep h ole i n the creek, w i t h the intention of throwi n g m y gun i n , but then it appeared to me that whisky had g iven tfae devil ifull p ower over nae, and that a burden was Tie, t hat I could not east off. I t hen went back, hunted!*ltti3*1ourid m y f lint a nd reloaded my gun, and went o n n iy w ay t i l l I a rrived at the contemplated spot, which was e arly i n the morning. I t ook m y stand about t hirty yands f rom the road on the left hand side, behind a chestnut root, h aving m uch liquor i n me, and having been up d rinking a nd c ard p laying during the previous night, I soon became s tepid a nd l ay down and f ell asleep, how long I slept I k now no^, - j r - B r ^ ^ i T t hink it was but a short time. I was suddenly awoke by a P heasant f lying i mmediately over me, which probably was s cared wf by the peddler passing along. I raised ap, and jast as I raised I saw the peddler, he had got rather passed me, bat h ad turned round so his breast was f air t o me, it isprobable t hat he halted and turned around to look after his Pheasant. I fired just as he seemed to be i n the act of t urning to start on a gain. I t hink the b all must have struck h i m about the left - m pple, he appeared to know he was shot, he went down quite I e asy, he carried his budget of table linens upon a stick, a n d ' I