CHASED BY THE SHERIFF

Part 1 of 9

Source:  Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.), January 9, 1913, Edition 1, Image 3 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.

 

(Reported by R. C. Haynes.)

 

A few days ago a number of men had gathered in one of our popular barber shops, each waiting his turn to be "next," and, being comfortably situated--entirely exempt from the effects of the cold, north wind which blew up the streets and whistled around the corners of the buildings, sending great blasts of snow against the less fortunate pedestrians without--they were passing away the time by exchanging stories of various happenings of which they had knowledge, among others, the attempted escape of a certain prisoner from Judge Blue's court recently.

"Ever since a certain period of my life," spoke up a gentleman who had been so far a silent listener, "whenever I see a chase such as has been so ably narrated and commented upon, my sympathy goes out to the fellow who is being pursued rather than to the pursuers."

"To what particular period do you refer?" he was asked. "Tell us about it, Zebulum."

The crowd, knowing Zebulum's propensity for story-telling, drew closer around, feeling confident he had a good one in store for them.

"There was an incident in my life, gentlemen," said Zebulum in compliance, "which, I must say, completely revolutionized my views on such matters. I cannot now, by grab, see a rabbit chased by dogs without wanting to lend a helping hand to the rabbit by scattering the blamed dogs to the four winds.

"The incident to which I refer," the story-teller went on, "happened years and years ago, before some of you gentlemen were born; yet it can be remembered by some of the oldest residents of the county.

"I have never told of the adventure but a few times, my wife being averse to having it narrated, owing to the figure she cut in the affair, though, bless her heart, I have always been proud of the heroic part she carried out on that occasion.

"Seeing, gentlemen, that I will have to wait some time for my hair-cut--which you see I stand in need of--I will tell you the story in as few words as possible.

"It happened, as I have said, years ago, when I was a young man; and now, by grab, I have grandchildren thinking of getting married.

"Marion at that time was a very small town, not even as large as my own town of Ford's Ferry. It was little more than a place where two roads crossed. Yet it was the county seat and had a courthouse, where justice was dealt out, same as now. It had a sheriff and a deputy and a town marshal, whose duty it was to see that no guilty man escaped, same as now. It had lawyers and a judge, whose duty it was to expound and apply the law, same as now. It had a physician or two whose business it was to see that no scoundrel escaped vaccination or jumped his quarantine, same as now. It had a tavern, including a bar; a couple of general merchandise stores, in one of which the post-office was kept; a drug store, a church, a school house and a few residences occupied by mighty good citizens. It had no railroad, no telegraph, no telephones, no express office, no newspaper, no banks, no rural routes, no electric lights, no automobiles, and there were fewer buggies and carriages in the county then, by grab, than there are automobiles now.

"Such, gentlemen, was the town of Marion at the time I refer to. I was a stranger in the town, though I was quite well known in Ford's Ferry and the country round about, having come there several months before from Smith county, Tennessee. About the first thing I did, by grab, after I got here was to fall in love.

"Yes, gentlemen, I fell in love, heels over head. I had a desperate case of it. You could not have blamed me though if you could have known Nell at that time. To my way of looking at things, she was the only girl worth considering in a matrimonial way. In fact, every pound that girl weighed represented to me, by grab, just that much preciousness.

"But I didn't start out to tell you of my courtship or my love affairs, and will not do so, except the part connected with the unfortunate adventure to which I have referred.

"It was a day in October and after eating an early dinner, I donned my best suit of clothes, mounted my old horse, Slick Selim, and started for Marion. I was going on very important business and was as happy and gay as the birds that sang in the trees over my head as I rode along the road. I was going to the county seat for my marriage license.

I had asked Nell if she wouldn't be my wife and she, after treating me like a dog for a week by making me wait in doubt and cold perspiration as to my final destination, graciously accorded me an answer in the affirmative.

"After giving her a couple of kisses and a hug as a reward for her somewhat delayed but satisfactory reply I, as I have just said, mounted old Slick Selim and started on my way for a visit to the county clerk.

"I arrived in Marion between one and two o'clock and knowing no one in the town I went directly to the clerk's office. After satisfying himself that he could do so without violating the Kentucky statutes, the clerk issued the license and tossed the paper toward me across the table, corking his ink-bottle with his right hand and holding out his left for his fee.

"Going down into my pocket I unbregrudgingly fished out the necessary coin. What was a paltry dollar or two compared to the great favor the commonwealth of Kentucky had just bestowed upon me?

"Taking up the folded paper, I opened it just enough to glance at the inside. There it was, in black and white. It authorized Mr. Zebulum So-and-So, aged 20, and Miss Nell So-and-So, aged 17, to be united in holy wedlock. Signed Berry S. Young, clerk.

"It looked good to me. Refolding it, I placed the license in my pocket, left the office and walked down the corridor of the courthouse, feeling in my pocket every few steps to see if the paper was still there.

"It was my intention to mount Slick Selim and be off at once. The wedding was set for four o'clock and I would have just about time enough to make good my appearance on the scene where I was scheduled for an important part on the program.

"So far, gentlemen, everything had gone my way. I felt good and at peace with all mankind. I had no premonition of the rapid approach of coming events, which it is said, cast their shadows before.

"As I was going down the courthouse steps two men, who were just outside the court inclosure and a little south of the gate, began to biff at each other at a great rage. It was an old fashioned fist-and-skull fight, very common in those days, especially about election time.

I have always favored peace rather than war. I was, and am still, a member of the Presbyterian church in good standing, so I felt it my duty on that occasion, although I was in a hurry to be off, to lend an interceding hand in behalf of peace between the two combatants.

"Just as I passed through the gate, however, one of the fighters gave his antagonist a solar plexus blow which sent him to the ground, where he lay motionless and apparently as dead as a door nail!

"I looked around. The streets were deserted, there was no one else in sight. I had been the only spectator of the fight. It was no affair of mine, I reflected, and was about to pass on when a man stepped out of the White Tavern bar and, seeing there had been a fight, came running toward the courthouse.

"What's the matter here?" he asked, when he came up to where the two of us stood. "Who struck Bobby Broadway?"

"Before I had time to frame a reply, the man who had struck Bobby Broadway said:

"'You see, Sol, it was this way. This gentleman and I were standing here, considering whether we should go over to the White Tavern, when Bobby Broadway stepped up. Bobby had just come from the tavern and was feeling good, so when he got up here where we were standing, he said, without ascertaining our political views, "Hurrah for Horace Greeley!" when this gentleman (pointing to me) up with his fist and gave him a punch, which seems to have put his lights out.'

"The man addressed as Sol, whose name I afterward learned was Solomon Wiggleford, turned to me. 'Does Highfield Jones tell the straight of it?' he asked.

"I told him that Highfield was lying, that he himself was the guilty man and that I was innocent. I told him my name, adding that I was from Ford's Ferry and that I had come up on very important business.

"Solomon had, as I have said, just come from the tavern bar and had by this time begun to feel the effect of a dram or two.

"'Well,' said Solomon Wiggleford, scratching his head in perplexity, 'I don't know who struck Bobby Broadway, but, by George, it is plain enough that Bobby Broadway was struck by somebody while he was simply exercising his political rights under our glorious constitution. Now the question is, Who struck Bobby Broadway? If you two fellows think it will be another Billy Patterson affair you are mistaken. I'm not an officer, or I would arrest you both, to make sure the capture of the scoundrel who struck Bobby Broadway. I would, by jinks, or I'm not Solomon Wiggleford. By jinks, I can whip the man who struck Bobby Broadway, and I can whip the man who didn't! Whoop-ee! Hurrah for Horace Greeley!'

"The longer Solomon talked the more excited he became, and I was about to go on and leave them, when he stepped over to the gate and yelled, 'Tom!'

"'He's calling the town marshal,' whispered Highfield Jones, 'and Dickinson will be here in a minute. We've got to get out of this the best way we can.'

"'By grab, I've just got to get away!' I replied. 'I've no time to fool with courts and sheriffs and town marshals, by grab. I've more important business on hand,' and I felt in my pocket to see if the license was still there.

"'I see the marshal coming--run! run!' cried Highfield Jones, and may heaven bless you."

"Looking over toward the tavern, I saw a big long-legged man making his way toward the court house in a run.

"I knew I had no time to lose. Being innocent, I could not stand for being arrested and being brought up before the court and perhaps sent to jail especially on such an occasion as this. I knew that Nell--bless her soul--would be at home, rigged up in her wedding attire waiting for me. The preacher would be there waiting to perform the ceremony. The guests would be there enjoying themselves as only guests at a wedding can.

"With these thoughts in my mind, I determined to escape, if I could. I could not reach Slick Selim, for the marshal was between me and the horse. So I lit out afoot. As the marshal came up on the north side of the courthouse I ran around to the south side, and when he was at the front entrance I was standing on the second step of the back entrance. As he darted around the south side of the building to the back entrance I ran around to the north side. When he reached the back entrance where he had first seen me, instead of going around to the north side where I was he ran up the steps to the inside of the courthouse. I knew he thought I had gone into some the offices in there and that it would take him a few minutes to hunt through all of them and I could hear him raising all Cain in the offices in there.

"Taking advantage of the Marshal's error, I left the courthouse and ran north, crossing Salem street, passing the White Tavern and taking down the Fords Ferry road as fast as my legs would carry me.

"When I had gotten about two hundred yards down the road I looked back. The town marshal, reinforced by sheriff and deputy and Highfield Jones and Solomon Wiggleford, crossed Salem street, coming in my direction. Down the road the five came after me, in full tilt, yelling like bloody indians."

'This remarkable adventure, as told by Zebulum himself, will be continued in this department of the Record-Press next week.'


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