Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Secaucus, NJ 1997. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.
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At last some good old-fashioned history! (about "dead white males" killing each other).
The following is from Famous Kentucky Tragedies and Trials (pp27-33) by "L.F. Johnson of the Frankfort, KY Bar, Author of' 'A History of Franklin County, KY'" (The Baldwin Law Book Company, Louisville KY, 1916).
The book was dedicated "To Judge Patrick U. Major, ... my preceptor and law partner, who was born in 1822 and died 1903".
Francis P. Blair, and Hezakiah Niles make cameo appearances; Blair as a Circuit Court Clerk, and Niles telling us that
"A pair of dunces agreed to shoot at each other few days ago near Frankfort, Ky. One was a young Virginian, the challenger, the other a printer. The first was instantly killed on the spot, and the other very badly wounded."
The jury refused to convict for a killing in a duel, as usual.
The first third is a sort of history of dueling - take it with a grain of salt.
I would have thought the wording of the indictment against the surviving duelist and his second:
not having the fear of God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the 16th day of July in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and nineteen, with force and arms, in the County aforesaid in and upon Francis G. Waring, in the peace of God and of the said Commonwealth then and there being feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought, did make an assault
more typical of colonial New England than of 1819 Kentucky, but there it is, proving my preconception wrong.
Next Week: "The Assasination of Francis Baker by Isaac B. Desha, in 1824"
THE past century has brought many changes in the ideals of men. For
four hundred years prior to the year 1800, dueling was not only considered
honorable, but the man who refused to accept a challenge was regarded as
a coward who did not deserve to live.
The AngloSaxons "allowed an appeal to the judgment of God"
by single combat.
After the Norman conquest this became a regular part of the jurisprudence
of the country, and it was regulated by fixed and solemn forms. In civil
cases, personal combat was the usual and common way of settling disputes.
A party to a law suit who was dissatisfied with the judgment, might throw
down his glove and challenge the judge to defend himself. But dueling is
of much greater antiquity than the Norman conquest. The duel between David,
the Hebrew, and Goliath, the Philistine, and in which the Philistine was
slain, is familiar to every Bible student. The Greeks and Romans recognized
it as a proper way to settle disputes. The combat between the three Horatii
brothers and the three Curatii brothers is familiar to every school child.
For hundreds of years, and especially under the feudal system of Great
Britain, the chief education of a man was to teach him how to overthrow
his opponent in personal combat; with such training, with such ideals,
and with such ancestry it is not strange that the people of the United
States were ready to follow the example of their fathers.
During the colonial period and the early history of the United States,
many great men of this country were engaged in dueling, not a few of whom
became victims of the cruel, inhuman and to the present generation, inexcusible
custom. General Alexander Hamilton who fell by the hand of Col. Aaron Burr
in 1804, and Commodore Stephen Decatur who was slain by the hand of Capt.
James Barron in 1820, were among the greatest of the nation.
Kentucky, perhaps, furnished more duelists than any other State. The
ideal Kentuckian, General John C. Breckenridge, had a personal difficulty
with Hon. Francis Cutting in 1854 which resulted in a challenge, but the
intervention of friends prevented the fight.
In 1858 the Hon. William J. Graves, a Congressman from Kentucky, killed
Hon. Jonathan Cilley, a Congressman from Maine. The Hon. John J. Crittenden
and Richard H. Menifee were present to witness the duel.
Hon. Henry Clay fought two duels and he was the challenger in both of
them. The first was in 1808 with Humphry Marshall, a fellow member of the
Kentucky Legslature; they met and exchanged two shots each and retired
from the field, each of them slightly wounded. The second was in 1826,
with Senator John Randolph, on the banks of the Potomac near Washington,
D.C. Mr. Clay was, at that time, Secretary of State in the National Cabinet
and Mr. Randolph was a Senator in Congress from Virginia. Mr. Clay fired
without effect; Mr. Randolph disharged his pistol in the air, as he had
previously stated to his second that he would. Mr. Clay immediately dropped
is pistol and approached Mr. Randolph and said with emotion, "I trust
God, my dear sir, you are untouched; after what has occurred I would not
have harmed you for a thousand worlds."
In 1830 Gen. Conway and Hon. Robert Crittenden met on the field of honor
in Arkansas. Ben Desha, son of Governor Joseph Desha, was Mr. Crittenden's
second. Mr. .Crittenden was slightly wounded and General Conway was shot
through the heart.
The duel between Francis G. Waring and Jacob Harrod Holman was fought
in Franklin county, about three miles from Frankfort, in the early morning
of July 16, 1819. Francis G. Waring was a wealthy young Virginian who had
recently come to Kentucky. He was a practiced duelist who had been engaged
in several affairs of honor in the old dominion.
On the 4th of July, Waring attended a muster of the county militia which
was drilled on the Peak's mill road about four miles from Frankfort. Jacob
H. Holman was an officer of the company and during the maneuvers a dog
which belonged to Waring was killed by a thrust from Holman's saber. This
killing brought on a fist fight between the two men, but they were separated
before any material damage was done to either of them and it was thought
by those present that the incident was closed. The following day Waring
sought his friend, Doctor Joe Roberts and after talking the matter over
between them, Doctor Roberts became the bearer of a challenge.
Mr. Holman selected Wilson P. Greenup, son of exGovernor Christopher
Greenup, as his second in the coming affair of honor. Mr. Greenup and Doctor
Roberts met the following day and agreed that since Holman had received
the challenge he had the right to name the weapons to be used and Waring
was given the right to select the ground, and the day fixed was the 16th
of July, at the trout of six o'clock in the morning. Holman named the dueling
pistols as the weapons to be used and Waring selected the beautiful woodland
on the Rev. Silas M. Noel's farm as the place of meeting. This farm afterwards
became famous for being the home of Theodore O'Hara, the author of "The
Bivouc of the Dead." It was further agreed that the principals were
to stand ten steps apart and at the words, one, two three, Fire! they were
to fire simultaneously. If either party fired before the command, "Fire"
was given, the seconds agreed to shoot down the one so offending. If either
party failed to fire at the command, his opponents second was to count,
one, two, three, and if he failed to fire on the call of the last number
he was to lose his shot.
The party met promptly at the time arranged and at the place named;
all of the arrangements previously made were carried out. The principals
took the places assigned them. the question was asked, "Are you ready,"
both of them answered in the affirmative. Doctor Roberts then counted,
one ! two! three ! and each of them raised and presented his pistol, taking
deliberate aim at his opponent, when he gave he command "Fire!"
both shots were so nearly simultaneous, that only one report was heard.
Holman's bullet took effect in Waring's right breast, ranging to the left
and passed through his heart causing his death instantly. Waring's bullet
took effect in Holman's right hip causing him to fall, he was carried from
the battle field to his home where he lingered for many months. He finally
recovered so that he could walk but he remained a cripple for life.
Niles' Register for August 1819, said:
"A pair of dunces agreed to shoot at each other few days ago near
Frankfort, Ky. One was a young Virginian, the challenger, the other a printer.
The first was instantly killed on the spot, and the other very badly wounded."
The Franklin county grand jury indicted Holman and Greenup for the murder
of Waring, and Doctor Roberts as also indicted charged with aiding, abetting,
etc., the felonious shooting of Holman by Francis G. Waring.
The indictment against Holman and Greenup jointly charged that:
"Jacob H. Holman and Wilson P. Greenup, not having the fear of
God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of
the devil, on the 16th day of July in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred
and nineteen, with force and arms, in the County aforesaid in and upon
Francis G. Waring, in the peace of God and of the said Commonwealth then
and there being feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought,
did make an assault, and that the said Jacob H. Holman, a certain pistol,
then and there loaded and charged with gunpowder and one loaded bullet,
which pistol the said Jacob H. Holman in his right hand then and there
had and held to, against and upon the said Francis G. Waring then and there
feloniously, wilfully and of his malice aforethought, did shoot and discharge
in the right pap of him the said Francis G. Waring then and there being
in the Peace of God, and of the Commonwealth, from the effect of which
the said Francis G. Waring then and there instantly died. And that the
aforesaid Wilson P. Greenup, then and there feloniously, wilfully and of
his malice aforethought was present, aiding, helping, abetting, comforting,
assisting and maintaining the said Jacob H. Holman, the felony and murder
aforesaid in the manner and form aforesaid to do and commit. And so the
jurors aforesaid upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the said Jacob
H. Holman and Wilson P. Greenup, him the. said Francis G. Waring, then
and there in the manner aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully and of their malice
aforethought did kill and murder against the statutes in such cases provided
and against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
"W. ANDERSON, Atty for Com."
On Saturday, July 24, Wilson P. Greenup surrendered himself into the
custody of the court and bail was fixed at two thousand dollars. John J.
Marshall (author of J. J. Marshall's Reports), and Thomas Loofborro went
on his bond for his appearance at the October term of court. The method
of selecting jurors differed from that of a hundred years later. The order
to the sheriff was:
"You are hereby commanded to summons twelve good and lawful men
of your county, being housekeepers, by whom the truth may be better known,
residing as near as may be to the place where a certain murder is supposed
to have been committed on the body of Franeis a. Waring, late of your county,
to appear before the Franklin Circuit Court immediately for the trial of
Jacob H. Holman who stands indicted in the Circuit aforesaid for the murder
"Francis P. BLAIR,
Circuit Court Clerk."
On October 19th, Jacob H. Holman and Wilson P. Greenup appeared in the
court and being arraigned, plead "Not guilty," and for their
trial put themselves upon their country and the attorney for the Commonwealth
likewise, and the prisoners having consented to be tried by the same jury
and at the same time, thereupon came a jury towit: George Baltzell
and eleven others, who being elected, tried, sworn the truth of and upon
the premises to speak, and there not being time to go through the trial
this evening, by consent as well of the attorneys for the Commonwealth
as the prisoners at the bar, the jury is adjourned until tomorrow
morning at nine o'clock and the jurymen permitted to go to their respective
places of abode to return at the time aforesaid.
October 20th: "Jacob E. Holman and Wilson P. Greenup, who stand
indicted for murder, were again led to the bar in custody of the sheriff,
and the jury empaneled and sworn for their trial also appeared and took
their seats, and having heard the evidence upon their oaths do say the
prisoners at the bar not guilty as charged in manner and form as in the
indictment against them alleged, and proclamation being made as the manner
is, and nothing further appearing or being alleged against the said Jacob
H. Holman and Wilson P. Greenup; it is therefore considered by the court
that they be acquitted and discharged from the charge aforesaid and go
thereof hence without day."
The indictment against Joseph Roberts, physician, for aiding, etc.,
Francis G. Waring in shooting Jacob H. Holman in the lower part of the
right hip, was on motion of the Commonwealth's Attorney, dismissed.
Jacob Harrod Holman was public printer of Kentucky for many years. At
one time he was editor of the "Commmentator" and later
was the editor of "The Spirit of 76" and "The
Kentuckian," all of which were published in Frankfort. He was
a man of good reputation and of fine ability.
Francis G. Waring was a brother of the notorious John U. Waring, who
killed Samuel Q. Richardson in 1835, and brotherinlaw of Rev.
Silas M. Noel, of Frankfort, a noted Baptist preacher and associate Circuit
Judge of pioneer days. Doctor Joseph Roberts practiced his profession at
Frankfort for more than fifty years. He had charge of the federal hospital
at Frankfort during the civil war. He died about the close of the war.
His son John Roberts was in the Confederate army and Joe Roberts, Jr.,
another one of his sons was an officer in the Federal army.
Wilson P. Greenup was the son of Governor Christopher Greenup, who discharged
the duties of Governor with honor and credit and who died in the year 1818.
Inscribed on his monument, by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which was erected
in the Frankfort cemetery, is the following:
"His capacity, fidelity and usefulness in civil service is amply
proven by his repeated elevation to and long continuance in offices, executive,
legislative and judicial of the highest grade. He served repeatedly in
the State and federal legislatures, filled the office of judge in several
courts, inferior and superior, and was elected Governor of the Commonwealth
in August, 1804. Patriot, soldier and statesman, through a long life of
public service he distinguished himself in war and peace and died in the
full enjoyment of the confidence of his countrymen, in the sixtyninth
year of his age."