The trial of GRIFFIN for the murder of Uzile PRICKETT came up by assignment before the Court of Common Pleas, Monday, February 22, 1869. The hearing of evidence and the argument of counsel occupied the entire week. The trial was watched with the greatest interest, and during its continuance the courtroom was crowded to its utmost capacity. PRICKETT had made wrestling his business for a number of years, and in this had established a reputation with the sporting community. He came to Hamilton for the purpose of engaging in a wrestling contest, and on Friday, June 12, 1868, the match was had near Debbysville, between him and one Tim WALKER, in which PICKETT was vanquished. On the night of that day PRICKETT was killed in the saloon known as the "Hole in the Wall." Suspicion attached at once to Griffin as the man who had killed him. He was arrested, had a preliminary examination before the mayor, and was committed to jail to answer to the charge of murder in the first degree. The grand jury, at the October term, found a true bill against him, and the case came up at that term; but, owing to an informality in obtaining the jury, was continued to February 22d. The evidence which proved to the satisfaction of the jury that GRIFFIN was guilty of the murder of PRICKETT was that furnished by himself and the testimony of KELLEY.
It was in evidence that GRIFFIN came to the American saloon about twelve o'clock Friday night, and on obtaining entrance replied to questions as to how blood came on his hat and why his hand was wrapped in a pocket handkerchief, that he had "had a fight with PRICKETT," "had knocked him down," "thought he had hit him too hard," and one witness said that GRIFFIN said with an oath, "he had killed him (PRICKETT) he believed," and others that he said "he was afraid he had killed him."
He gave as the cause of the quarrel between himself and PRICKETT, that while in the "Hole in the Wall" he had invited PRICKETT to drink with him, to which invitation the latter responded that "he would not drink with any d--d VALLANDIGHAM man," whereupon he had struck him. It was in evidence that PRICKETT had twice before drank with Griffin that evening at the "Hole in the Wall," once on GRIFFIN's invitation and again on the invitation of Thomas CONNAUGHTON. Coupled with these statements made b GRIFFIN to parties in the American Saloon, was the evidence of Joe KELLEY. Kelley's evidence was that between eleven and twelve o'clock Friday night he left the Globe Saloon and went down to the "Hole in the Wall," accompanied by George SHEDD. On their arrival no one was in the room save PRICKETT and the bar-keeper. Shortly after GRIFFIN and CONNAUGHTON came in. GRIFFIN treated the crowd and then CONNAUGHTON did, PRICKETT drinking both times. Both GRIFFIN and CONNAUGHTON then left the saloon. They returned soon and again departed. SHEDD left a short time after. GRIFFIN returned for the third time to the saloon, this time alone. No one was then there present excepting PRICKETT, GRIFFIN, and Kelley. PRICKETT was sitting with his back to the rear part of the saloon, leaning back in his chair between two tables. KELLEY was playing the banjo.
"All at once," said Kelley, "GRIFFIN came up to PRICKETT hit him first with his left hand and then with the right, then pushed out his right fist against PRICKETT. Then I heard a pistol shot. PRICKETT 's head. fell back on the table. GRIFFIN went out about a minute after the shooting and remained out some moments. When he came back he took hold of my banjo. I had gone back to speak to the bar-keeper's wife. I came back into the room, took the banjo, and went up stairs into the street GRIFFIN following me. I said to GRIFFIN at the head of the stairs, 'This is a bad night's work.' He said, 'If you do not think he is dead I will go and give him another.' I then went after Dr. FALCONER. GRIFFIN went with me, and was standing back of me when I spoke to the doctor. I then went to my room, put away my banjo, and returned to the saloon. I then went first after HUMBACH, then to Johnson MCGEHEAN’s, and then for MCGLYNN; returned again to the 'Hole in the Wall’ and remained until Dr. MCNEELEY said PRICKETT was dead. At the time the shot was fired no one was in the room save PRICKETT, GRIFFIN, and myself. I am confident I saw the butt of a pistol in GRIFFIN 's hand."
Up to the testimony of Kelley it will he seen no evidence had been adduced showing that GRIFFIN had more than struck PICKETT. The testimony of Kelley, if admitted, proved that in addition to striking him with his fist he had caused his death by shooting him. It is but just to say that KELLEY was a man of the most disreputable character, and the defense introduced an abundance of witnesses who declared they would not believe him under oath. Kelley was, apparently, a most unwilling witness against GRIFFIN. He had absconded from the city in order to avoid giving his evidence against GRIFFIN, and it was only after a protracted search that he had been found and brought back to give his testimony in the case. KELLEY himself testified that his life was threatened should he testify against the accused. Under such circumstances as these his testimony went to the jury, and that jury, after a session of five hours, came into the court at eleven P.M. Saturday February 27th, with a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.
Motion was made for a new trial by the defense and most ably argued by opposing counsel, and on Friday, March 5,1869, John GRIFFIN was brought into court to hear his sentence. In reply to a question by the court "why sentence should not be pronounced against him," GRIFFIN asserted his innocence, and affirmed his belief that he would have been acquitted had the trial been less protracted. Judge GILMORE then sentenced him to be removed to the county jail, and there kept in close confinement until Thursday, May 27th, on which day, between the hours of eleven and three o’clock, he was to be hanged.
As the day approached on which John GRIFFIN was to suffer the extreme penalty of the law it became evident that his counsel would make an effort to arrest the mandate of the court, and, if possible, secure for the defendant a new trial. On an alleged informality in the indictment, Justices DAY and WHITE, of the Supreme Court, directed the clerk of the Supreme ~ to issue a supersedes, enjoining upon the sheriff of Butler County a delay in the execution of the sentence 6f the court until its proceedings were reviewed. The Supreme Court convened at Columbus, June 30th, and on the day following Chief-justice DAY sustained the judgment of the Common Pleas. The court then designated Thursday, July 29th, as the day for the execution of GRIFFIN.
Petitions were swiftly circulated and numerously signed, asking the governor to commute the sentence of death to imprisonment for life. The governor gave to the case a most careful attention. Evidence both for and against the prisoner was asked for by him, but after a close study of the case in all its bearings he reluctantly declined to interfere with the sentence of the courts.
The friends of John GRIFFIN having failed to accomplish any thing, he determined to act in his own behalf.
At four o'clock Wednesday afternoon, July 21st, the Rev. Mr. HONE, a Catholic priest of Hamilton, visited the prisoner in his cell. Griffin's compartment was on the left hand side of the main entrance. He was kept securely locked up, while the other prisoners, fourteen in number, had the liberty of the hall.
Mr. HONE was, as usual, admitted to GRIFFIN ‘s cell by turnkey Bayless, and after a short interview was let out, Bayless locking the door, placing the key in his pantaloons pocket, and the two passing to the outer door, which was opened for their egress by one of the ladies attached to the jail. Mr. HONE was in the advance, and as the two were about to step out GRIFFIN motioned with his hand, which attracted the attention of Bayless, causing him to turn around, whereupon the prisoners made a rush, felling him to the ground, and endeavoring to procure the key to GRIFFIN ‘s cell.
The alarm was immediately raised by the attendant at the door and was taken up by the deputy's wife, the former having the presence of mind to ring the bell. The prisoners failing to get possession of the key then made a rush to the door, four of them, John RICHARDS, convicted for horse stealing, Joseph GUSTIN, stabbing with intent to kill, John SMITH and John REED, robbery, making their escape. In the meantime the alarm spread like wildfire throughout the city, and the report that GRIFFIN had been released brought hundreds to the vicinity of the jail in time to join in the pursuit. The situation was soon explained, and in fifteen minutes from the time of the escape the prisoners were recaptured and placed in their cells.
During his long confinement in the county jail GRIFFIN manifested no contrition for the murder of PRICKETT. At all times when interrogated on the subject he stoutly denied that he fired the pistol shot which produced PRICKETT ‘s death, asserting at times that Joe KELLEY and at other times that GALLOWAY fired the shot.
In reply to a question of a friend "whether the preachers came to see him," GRIFFIN replied, "yes, all of them; but they can't blarney me." He manifested a stoical indifference, which could only be accounted for on the theory that lie was wholly destitute of moral sensibilities and perceptions.
The most careful scrutiny on the part of the turnkey to prevent any thing going into the cell of GRIFFIN which might be used by him for the purpose of escape or self-destruction was not sufficient to prevent his obtaining a razor blade. This article was found while a search was made in his cell on the 28th, while GRIFFIN was being shaved in another part of the jail.
As early as eight o'clock on the 29th of July, and until after the execution, the approaches to the jail were lined by crowds of men from city and country anxious to know what was going on within the walls.
A strong police force stationed at each gate and patrolling the pavement in front of the jail was taxed at times to its utmost to repel the crowd, which on the exit of any one from within the jail surged up to the inclosure and was importunate in its demands for the details of the proceedings within.
But a limited number of persons was allowed to witness the execution. The friends of the prisoner, the city officials, clergy, and the press of this and adjoining cities composed the audience, and to these a few days before Sheriff ANDREWS had handed a card on which was printed:
"EXECUTION OF JOHN GRIFFIN Thursday, July 29th, 1869.
R.N. Andrews Sheriff of Butler County"
The gallows was located in the southeast corner of the jail-room, and in the corner diagonally opposite from the cell in which GRIFFIN was confined. It was a very rude piece of workmanship. In dimensions it was eight feet in length by five in width, and from the floor to the beam to which the upper end of the rope was attached was fifteen and a half feet. The platform upon which the sheriff and his assistants stood was five feet from the floor, and in dimensions was five by five feet. This platform was connected with the floor of the jail by a stairway of eight steps. From this platform and to the left and reached by two additional steps was the trap-door.
The Rev. Messrs. Hone, Lucas, and Steinberner of the Catholic Church of this city came into the jail about ten and a half, and from that time to eleven and a half were in earnest converse with the prisoner. At twenty minutes to twelve o'clock the coffin was brought into the jailroom, immediately after which deputies ALLEN and BROWN repaired to GRIFFIN’s cell, and escorted him to the gallows.
The prisoner's hands were tied in front and he held before him as he
walked from the cell to the scaffold a black walnut crucifix. The
reading of the death-warrant was done by the deputy sheriff of Hamilton
County. Immediately after the reading of the warrant the sheriff asked
the dying man if he had any thing to say. Griffin turned more directly
toward the spectators, and spoke as follows:
"Gentlemen, I am here in a place I never expected to be. I am not able to make a speech, and not very willing. I never had an idea. that I would come to the scaffold. It is by such cowardly testimony as KELLEY's, a man who was in jail at the time, and SHEDD and GALLOWAY if they had kept them in also, they would have told on themselves. KELLEY came to me in jail and said he was as much to blame as I. I am not guilty."At the conclusion of GRIFFIN's remarks Mr. HONE addressed the throne of grace in a most fervent petition in the prisoner's behalf; and on its conclusion he elevated the crucifix, which GRIFFIN kissed.
Deputy ALLEN then stepped forward and adjusted the noose. GRIFFIN again kissed his crucifix and bid the sheriff, Deputy Sheriff ALLEN, and Mr. HONE good-bye, and said, "I bid you all good-bye. I hope to. meet you in a better world. Farewell." Deputy ALLEN then put the white cap upon GRIFFIN's head. At five minutes after twelve the last moment had arrived. Standing on the trapdoor GRIFFIN exclaimed in a loud voice, "Sheriff, I am ready," and immediately the trap was sprung. The fall evidently broke his neck and killed him instantly, as, save the slightest twitching of the muscles, no movement of the body was perceptible.
The body was taken down at ten minutes to one o'clock and, after an examination by Doctors GALE, CORSON, and HINKLEY, who pronounced life extinct, it was enclosed in the coffin and delivered over to the custody of his friends, by whom it was buried the next day at three o'clock.
Thus ended the case of GRIFFIN. He was the only man hung in the county since its formation, and yet he was probably unjustly executed. We have been assured by two of the most prominent and acute lawyers of this city, whose official positions have required them to examine the evidence since, that PRICKETT had been dead an hour or more before he was struck by GRIFFIN, and that he was the scapegoat of others. That day he had sold the match, and had between eight and nine hundred dollars in his pocket. Those who had lost on their bets determined to get their money back, and shot PRICKETT, rifling his body, and placing him in a posture where his head was resting on a table. GRIFFIN came in inflamed by drink, having been instigated to the act by others, and struck the dead man a tremendous blow on his head with his fist. He fired no pistol. Afterwards he went away with the impression that he had really killed his man, nor could his counsel prove otherwise. There was just then a clamor for the punishment of crime in this county, and Griffin was the sufferer from it. Judge GILMORE charged the jury point-blank, crime bad been unusually rampant, and the conviction and execution took place.
The case of Thomas MCGEHEAN, take it for all in all, was probably the most celebrated connected with this county, although none of the principal trials took place here. But the lawless condition of Hamilton, the frequency of murders, the boldness with which the death of MYERS was planned, the publicity of the place, the efforts to have a trial in Hamilton, and the three subsequent trials in Warren and Montgomery Counties, the death of VALLANDIGHAM, the storm of indignation with which the final verdict was received, and the driving away of MCGEHEAN from this town, give it an interest with which no other can compare.
Thomas MCGEHEAN, around whom this tragedy revolves, was a native of Clermont County, and at the time of the death of MYERS was about thirty-five years of age. He had been brought up as a shoemaker, but when about twenty-five had abandoned that occupation and became a politician, speculator, and man of no trade. In 1862 he was a special agent of police of the United States Government, and was afterwards city marshal of Hamilton. He was a bold, rough, and determined man, and early made enemies, being charged with counterfeiting and other crimes, but in no instance was the accusation substantiated, although generally believed. He became also interested in the whisky frauds, and was employed by politicians on election days to aid them, as he well knew how to do. He had many friends, and was able to reward them and to punish those who were his enemies.
Among those who were rivals and opponents of his was Thomas S. MYERS, also charged with many misdemeanors. The two had acted together on many occasions, but had passed from friendship to enmity. MYERS also had his friends, and was scarcely ever seen without one or two of them in company. The commonly received version of the killing of MYERS is that he was in the American saloon, up stairs, in a gaming room, which was filled with people; that intelligence was brought to MCGEHEAN, who had been drinking, and that he and his party went over to that place, which was situated a few doors west of the HAMILTON House; that they ascended the stairs, and entered the room, MCGEHEAN approaching MYERS, who was seated one side of a table, and through his overcoat fired a shot from his pistol at MYERS, who fell, pulling out his revolver, and fired four or five times blindly. Large stones were also thrown during the progress of the fray by somebody. The room had been at the beginning of the affair crowded with people, some of them very respectable, but they all fled like sheep, and the place was immediately deserted. This was Christmas Eve, 1869.
MCGEHEAN, on the contrary, said the facts were that about seven in the evening he went from his stable into David LINGLER's saloon. There was a large crowd there. He laid off his overcoat, which was a large fur one, and sent LINGLER's little boy to MCGEHEAN's house, about two squares distant, for another one, a light-colored chinchilla. He then changed coats, handing the fur one to the bartender, and the change was made in front of the bar, before all present. From LINGLER's he went to two or three saloons, finally stopping at the American. At the head of the stairs he heard pistol shots, in rapid succession, and the noise of chairs falling in the gambling room, several men running out, and one or two of them falling down in their hurry. The affray did not last longer than fifteen seconds. Two men saw him, who testified to these facts on the trial. MCGEHEAN went into the room, but not more than five feet from the door.
MYERS was on the floor, and Peter SCHWAB standing near him. There were two or three others in the room. At the coroner’s inquest next morning nearly all who were in the room were brought before the jury, but none could tell who shot the deceased, except one who said that Jackson GARVER struck him with a stone, and then with a slung-shot. The theory of the death, according to MEGEHEAN, was that GARVER struck MYERS with a stone while the latter was sitting at a table playing cards, and that in drawing out his pistol to repel the attack he shot himself, dying from the effects of the shot in ten minutes. In the jail GARVER told the other prisoners that no one struck MYERS but himself. He said when he saw him there that night he thought it was a good opportunity to give it to him. He first threw a stone, which missed, and then threw another, striking him on the head. MYERS jumped up at once, and they clinched. GARVER then struck MYERS over the head several times with a slung-shot. The latter then tried to draw his pistol, but just as lie got it out of his pocket it went off; the bullet passing through the top of his pantaloons, and into his body. The two men had frequently had quarrels. Thus far MCGEHEAN's statement.
At the coroner's inquest MANY men were SWORN, C. L.VALLANDIGHAM acting for MCGEHEAN. Joseph MYERS, the brother of the deceased, swore a few days after, that he met MCGEHEAN coming down stairs, and said to him that he came for no fuss. MCGEHEAN replied, "All right, Tom's my meat, up stairs, dead." On his cross examination he admitted that three days before, on his previous examination, he had not said so. He shook hands in a friendly way with MCGEHEAN after the latter had acknowledged killing his brother.
D. V. BROWN testified that he was present at the time of this examination, and that the phrase imputed to the prisoner was not used by him.
After the preliminary examination and indictment MCGEHEAN asked and obtained a change of venue from Butler to Warren County. He was taken to the Warren County jail, but upon the sheriff of the latter place representing it was not secure enough without putting him into a cell he was brought hack.
The trial began on the 6th of June, 187l. The counsel that appealed on MCGEHEAN 's behalf were C. L. VALLANDIGHAM ,Thomas MILLIKIN, Alexander F. HUME, James E. NEAL, Governor MCBURNEY, and Judge WILSON. The attorneys for the prosecution were S. Z. GARD, Kelly O’NEIL, S. C. SYMMES, M. N. MAGINNIS, and P. H. KUMLER, appointed by the court. George R. SAGE was engaged by some of the citizens of Hamilton, as was John FOLLETT of Cincinnati. Stephen CRANE and A. W. ECKERT appeared for GARVER.
It very soon appeared that the dispute was as to whether GARVER or MCGEHEAN killed Myers. GARVER was introduced as a witness.
He swore that he saw MCGEHEAN shoot MYERS through his coat pocket and that there was a hole in it, and pointed out on his own coat where the hole was. VALLANDIGHAM said, "Would you know that coat if you saw it now?" "Yes." "And if you see it, and there is no hole in it, will you still swear there is?" To this he did not make any answer. Then Mr. VALLANDIGHAM said, "You will see the identical coat that Tom MCGEHEAN wore that night, and there is no hole in it." During Carver's evidence he said that he met MCGEHEAN at LINGLER's saloon on Christmas Eve, and that MCGEHEAN wished him to "whip that big loafer," MYERS, that night. SHEELY, Tom MCGEHEAN, James MCGEHEAN, MCGLYNN, and CARVER went to the Phoenix Saloon, and on the way SHEELY gave him two stones. From there they went to the American Saloon, where MYERS was playing cards. MCGLYNN and CARVER stood behind MYERS, and the latter inquired of the former whether he was ready. MCGLYNN replied in the affirmative. CARVER then threw a stone, and his associate followed. MYERS immediately rose from his chair, and then Carver saw MCGEHEAN, he says, shoot him through the pocket. He saw the smoke coming out. He was watching the bully closely, and was afraid lie would himself be shot. He had often heard MCGEHEAN say Tom MYERS ought to he killed. After the fight he and MCGEHEAN met in front of DINGFELDER's lumber yard, where he was shown the bullet hole.
On the cross-examination it was proved that GARVER had been once in the penitentiary for burglary. He had been indicted twice for stealing, and also for shooting at Dan SMITH, Jacob HUMBACH, and James MCGEHEAN. He had been arrested for carrying concealed weapons. He was arrested for knocking a man down and robbing him of his watch. He was dismissed from the fire department and drew a knife on the man that took his place. He had been indicted for assault and battery, he could not say how many times, probably ten. He deserted from the army at Nashville, and stole mules from the government after the war, and he admitted that he perjured himself in the examination before the coroners jury.
This first trial was at Lebanon, Judge Leroy POPE presiding. From the first to the last MCGEHEAN's attorneys contended that MYERS accidentally shot himself. After the witnesses had been examined it was arranged that Mr. MILLIKIN should make the first speech to the jury for the defense, and that Mr. VALLANDIGHAM should deliver the final address. It was in the preparation of this, the greatest effort of his life, that he met with the accident which closed his earthly career. He had displayed more than usual interest in the case.
Mr. VALLANDIGHAM occupied room No. 15, on the second floor, of the Lebanon House. The room was immediately over the hall door and fronting on Broadway, the widest and handsomest street in the place.
He had returned but a short time from a walk with A. G. MCBURNEY, of Lebanon, and Thomas MILLIKIN, of Hamilton, associate counsel in the defense, from Turtle Creek, in the outskirts, whither they had repaired at the instance of Mr. VALLANDIGHAM to witness an experiment performed by him of shooting with a revolver at a piece of cloth in order to show how close the muzzle of the weapon could be held to the material without powder burning it.
Mr. VALLANDIGHAM had a new Smith & Wesson’s improved revolver, with five chambers of the No. 32 caliber, and tried his experiment, with what success can not now be determined, but as the party returned Mr. MILLIKIN remarked to Mr. VALLANDIGHAM that there were three loads remaining, and he had better discharge them. "No," replied Mr. VALLANDIGHAM, "never mind." Mr. MILLIKIN urged, Mr. VALLANDIGHAM resisted, and soon after reached the hotel and entered his room, where he placed the loaded revolver on the table with an unloaded weapon, which he intended to use in his argument on Monday before the jury, in illustrating his theory that Thomas S. MYERS shot himself. Mr. SYMMES, of Hamilton, entered the room, and Mr. VALLANDIGHAM remarked that he felt badly; he had just had a telegram announcing the dangerous illness of his wife's brother, J. L. V. MCMAHON, of Cumberland, Maryland, and Mrs. VALLANDIGHAM had gone to attend the bedside. They were soon joined by Mr. MCBURNEY.
No one unacquainted with Mr. VALLANDIGHAM could have fully appreciated his wonderful energy of character. It had carried him through almost unparalleled difficulties for several eventful years, and never, probably, did it shine out with such promise as in this latest effort his legal career. Upon the defense of Tom MCGEHEAN he concentrated on every faculty of mind, throwing his entire being into it with an enthusiasm and force which those associated with him in the ease say eclipsed every former effort, and gave promise of success in a case already tried, judged, and condemned at the bar of public opinion. Day and night he devoted himself to it with unremitting pains. Every thing calculated to contribute in the least to strengthen the defense Mr. MCGEHEAN eagerly performed, and it was in direct pursuance of this end that he lost his life.
"I will demonstrate to you in a moment," said he to Mr. MCBURNEY and Mr. SYMMES, "the absurdity of FOLLETTS’s statement that Tom MYERS did not shoot himself." With that he seized one of the pistols lying on the table, and putting it in his right pantaloon pocket, continued: "Now here is the way Tom Myers had his pistol in his pocket." Mr. SYMMES here interrupted him, and excusing himself, left the room to see Judge POPE on business, who at that moment was passing on his way to his own room on the floor above, and retired. Mr. VALLANDIGHAM had then only one auditor and spectator -Mr. MCBURNEY.
"You see, Mr. MCBURNEY, how I hold this pistol?"
"Very well, now, MYERS drew his out this way, and the muzzle came up to hereabout he pulled the trigger."
Mr. VALLANDIGHAM held the muzzle of
his pistol against the right side of his abdomen, at a point. Almost
exactly corresponding with that where MYERS received the bullet, and to
the infinite astonishment of Mr. MCBURNEY, and himself, an explosion
took place, and the rash experimenter exclaimed:
"Oh! murder, I am shot"
The terrible situation was realized in a moment by both. Mr. VALLANDIGHAM tore open his garments and Mr. MCBURNEY summoned assistance.
"What a foolish thing to do," remarked the wounded man, as he pointed to a little red spot on his skin. "I took hold of the wrong pistol, and that's the result."
The explosion and the call for assistance soon filled he room, the hall in front, and the stairway with excited people, and in much less time than it takes to tell it half the population of Lebanon knew that Mr. VALLANDIGHAM was accidentally shot.
Drs. L. S. SCOVILLE and Isaac L. DRAKE of that place were there within a few moments after the accident occurred, and telegrams were dispatched for Professor W.W. DAWSON,. of Cincinnati, and Dr. J. C. REEVE, of Dayton, the family physician of Mr. VALLANDIGHAM.
But their efforts did not avail, and VALLANDIGHAM died the next morning at a quarter to ten.
After the jury had been charged by Judge POPE, they retired,. and were out for twenty-four hours, but were unable to agree. Mr. MCBURNEY and Judge WILSON, two of MCGEHEAN 's attorneys, procured thirty-nine affidavits stating that he could not get a fair trial in the county.
This being presented to Judge Pope, he allowed MCGEHEAN another change of venue, sending him to Dayton, Montgomery County. He was accordingly taken there and placed in jail.
When the trial came on, the evidence was substantially that given before, but the jury brought in a verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree. MCGEHEAN 's counsel applied for a new trial, on the ground that the verdict was not sustained by the evidence, and that one of the jurors (BUCHWEILER) had perjured himself when he swore his mind was not made up when selected. Judge MCKEMY set the verdict aside, and granted another trial. This took place the December following. After an hour's deliberation the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
The return of MCGEHEAN was attended with a commotion. No sooner was it known that he had reached home than a feeling was manifested against him. In the afternoon handbills appeared on the streets, denouncing the courts, the law, and the rings, and saying that society must protect itself. A meeting, therefore, was called for that evening at seven o'clock. Many regarded this as an intimation for MCGEHEAN to leave, and an indignation meeting had already been had at Port Union. The meeting was composed of well known and influential men, and passed resolutions denouncing his acquittal as an outrage, and ordering him not to remain in Hamilton. But in the meantime MCGEHEAN had departed, and for some time his home was in Cincinnati. When he came back, he opened a drinking-place.
Tom MCGEHEAN was assassinated in his saloon a little while before midnight on Sunday, June 13, 1875.
This saloon was a two story frame on Basin Street, between Third Street and the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton Railroad, and opposite GIFFEN's lumber yard.
MCGEHEAN had closed his place for the night, and after drinking on Basin Street, west of Third, had returned to his own saloon in company with two men that he might "treat" them at his own bar. The party entered the saloon and MCGEHEAN had turned on the gas and had stepped behind the bar to set out the liquor, when the shots were fired that ended his career.
There was a vacant lot on the west side of the saloon and a window opened here directly behind the bar. This window was protected by ordinary closed shutters, with diamond-shaped apertures near the top for the admission of light. The shutters were closed and fastened; the distance from the ground to the openings in the top of the shutters was about eight feet.
Either before MCGEHEAN entered his saloon at midnight Sunday night, or immediately after the party had entered, a small spring wagon was dragged before this window, from which the assassin, resting his weapon on the diamond-shaped aperture in the shutter, was enabled to take a deliberate aim at his victim. He was distant from him scarcely six feet, and the weapon was discharged with such deadly effect that MCGEHEAN fell struck with eleven large buckshot. Three of these large buckshot severed the jugular vein in as many places, killing him almost instantly.
He staggered out from the bar and fell a few feet from it. The discharge of the gun was heard some distance away, and on Nate WOOD, John JOHNSON, and Prosecuting Attorney VALLANDIGHAM reaching the saloon, MCGEHEAN was found stark dead on the floor with his revolver, which he had mechanically drawn, by his side. The two bystanders fled the moment the firing occurred, each thinking that MCGEHEAN was the assailant and they the intended victims. Their evidence before the coroner's jury gave no clue that would lead to the discovery of the assassin, nor has any information been elicited that would throw any light on this point.
MCGEHEAN was buried at nine o'cltick Tuesday morning. So ended the last scene of the tragedy. The man had many enemies, and they finally avenged themselves on him. The town for many years had been the seen of murders and brawls, but has since much improved.
Mason S. HAMILTON, who was city solicitor of HAMILTON for two years, committed suicide at the Soldier's Home last Fall. He was born in 1835; was captain of Company H, Eleventh Indiana Cavalry, during the last war; was county surveyor from 1870 to 1873, and city solicitor from 1875 to 1877. He was admitted to the Soldier's Home in September, 1879. His health had been bad for years, and was the cause of the act.
Judge ELLIOT, of the District Court, on Saturday, April 20, 1878, announced the death of George J. SMITH, formerly a member of this bar and court. On motion of Thomas MILLIKIN the court appointed a committee to draft resolutions of respect touching the character 'of the deceased. Thomas MILLIKIN, Thomas MOORE, and S. Z. GARD were appointed the committee, and their report, which is as follows, was read, adopted, and ordered spread upon the minutes of the court
"The court and bar of Butler County have learned with sincere sorrow of the death, at his home in Lebanon, of Honorable George J. SMITH. The deceased was for many years a distinguished lawyer at this bar, and was also for many years the presiding judge of our Court of Common Pleas. He was the contemporary of Thomas CORWIN, John WOODS, Thomas ROSS, William BEBB, Elijah VANCE, John B. WELLER, John M. MILLIKIN, and Lewis D. CAMPBELL, all lawyers of the olden time, men of ability and learning, whose names have honored our profession. Judge Smith was the last of the Butler County lawyers. He was a lawyer of extensive and accurate learning in his profession, of sound discriminating judgment, cautious, prudent, careful, amiable, eminently just and honorable both to his clients and adversaries. NO man ever practiced law at the Butler County bar with a better reputation for integrity and ability than George J. SMITH. As a judge he was learned, patient, painstaking, laborious, and honest. He was preeminently fitted for his position. He died at an advanced age, with an unspotted reputation, having lived a useful and unsullied life, leaving behind him no recollection that he would wish to blot out."
Among those whose names are preserved of the bar in 1871 are C. S. CURTIS, C. S. SYMMES, A. F. HUME, A. W. ECKERT, W. W. PARDEE, R. B. DAVIDSON, P. H. KUMLER, and A. W. SCOTT.