MEMORIES OF CAMPBELL COUNTY HISTORY

Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

From CAMPBELL CO HISTORY NEWS
July 1997


MEMORIES OF
CAMPBELL COUNTY HISTORY

William Foster Hopkins had been a well known Cincinnati defense attorney for half a century when he published his memoirs in 1970 under the title "Murder is my business." Foss, as he frequently was called, explained on page 166 how his father, nicknamed the Governor, introduced an interest in law to both Foss and his brother as they grew up in the 1910s in Newport Kentucky.

"...Other days I remember? One that played a large part in my decision to become a lawyer was the Saturday the Governor came in, hot and sweaty, from his (train) run and said, Boys, I've been thinking about it all the way from the train yard. Get ready. As soon as I've had a bath, we are going to take the trolley to Fort Thomas. There's something there I've been meaning to show you..."

Off to Fort Thomas on the little green streetcar we went: me, Rob, and the Governor. At the end of the line we got off. He led Rob and me straight into a dark and dusty but cool little store that sold just about everything. He fed pennies into the kaleidoscope for us, told us to look in, and there - flickering before our very eyes - unfolded quick segments of the Pearl Bryant (SIC) drama. She was the country girl who had come to visit two college students in Cincinnati, the last trip she would make on the face of the earth. Her body, minus its head, had been discovered later in the vicinity of the store in which we stood. The two students later accused of doing her in were convicted, and subsequently hanged in the courtyard of the Newport Courthouse. After looking at the pictures, we went out back to where they had found her body. Later, on another day, the Governor took us to the courthouse basement, where was displayed the noose which had yanked her two convicted murderers from this world straight into the next. And, several times after that, Rob and I rode bikes to the end of the trolley line where, with shovels, we dug, looking for the lady's head. We never found it.

There was nothing ghoulish about the Governor's motive for taking us there. He was passing the bits and pieces of his dream of the law along to his sons. I never forgot it. ...."

Another man who published local memories was Daniel Carter Beard. He was born in Cincinnati in 1850 and grew up in east Covington in the 1860s to become a major force in establishing and leading the Boy Scouts of America, . The following observations regarding the Newport Barracks during the Civil War appear in his Autobiography "Hardly a Man is Now Alive" which was published in 1939.

"...Accompanied by adult males for protection, one day I ventured over to Newport and visited the barracks. The troops were drawn up as if for dress parade, the field officers with gold epaulets and the privates with their brass fishscale epaulets. Captain Horn's regimental band was led by the big drum major, with a tawny beard reaching to his waistline. In front of the troops was the fife and drum corps, and in front of them were two men. Not only had their buttons and stripes been cut off, but they were hatless and half of their heads were shaved, They had only their shirts to cover their bodies, which, for want of buttons, were open at the throat and wrists. The fife and drum struck up that direful but splendid marching tune, "The Rogues March."

They marched those poor devils round and round the parade grounds in front of the troops, who stood at attention with arms reversed, that is, each gun had its butt in front and the muzzle pointing to the ground, as was the custom at funerals. Then they marched them to the barrack gates, where the culprits passed by the guard without giving a password, and the sentinels, in place of a challenge, reversed their pieces and came right about face, standing with their backs turned. After the men slunk down the street the band struck up a quickstep, as it does when returning from a funeral. I do not know what crime the man had committed, but I do know that in those early days of the war soldiers were not allowed to willfully or thoughtlessly lower the moral standing of their regiments.

Toward the latter part of the war, however, I saw no one drummed out of the army. On the contrary, on more then one occasion I saw men fired upon who were trying to drum themselves out. Once when we were playing opposite the Newport barracks a wild-eyed, bareheaded soldier sprang over the barracks fence, dashed down the bank across flotilla of loaded coal barges and made a beautiful swan dive into the river. When his head came up for air there was a corporal's guard on the barge with rifles aimed at the fugitive. He obeyed the order to about-face. All this was done amid a shower of bullets, which evidently were intended to intimidate the deserter, but which also intimidated and scattered the boys, who were directly in the line of fire. ..."

The above books present excellent reading for anyone interested in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky history. The Ft Thomas photo comes from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, World's Transportation Commission Photograph Collection and originally owned by Detroit Publishing Company. Materials for this article are used under the fair use provision of the copyright law for non-profit educational purposes.

Back to the Best of Campbell County News Index

Back to the Campbell County Historical Society Home Page