Skip to main content

Full text of "The slaughter of the Pfost-Greene family of Jackson county, W.Va. A history of the tragedy"

See other formats






3 1833 00726 7450 








— AND — 










— OF THE — 

Pfost-Greene tamily 




A Sketch ok the Kaivlily 

— AND 


Full Details of the Awful Crime, from the Hour of its Conception to that 

of the Execution of the Fiend who wrought Ruin of the Family. 

Biographical Notices of the Officers of the Court, and 

Others connected with the Trial. With Details 

of Morgan's Escape, Flight and Recapture. 



The Gibson Arin Co. 




General Merchant, RIPLEY, JACKSON COUNTY, W. VA. 

Who wrote up the Pfost-Greene Tragedy. 




JACKSON COUNTY was created in 183 1, from parts of Mason, 
Kanawha and Wood, in compliance with an act of the General 
Assembly of Virginia, passed March ist of that year, and named 
in honor of the hero of New Orleans, who was at that time Presi- 
dent of the United States. The present area of the county is 400 
square miles. 

Ripley, the seat of justice of the county, was laid out as a 
town by Jacob Starcher, Esq., who named it in honor of Harrj'^ 
Ripley, who was drowned in Big Mill Creek, near the present site 
of the town, which became the seat of justice two years after the 
formation of the county. 

The first surveys of the county were made by George Wash- 
ington and his assistant, Colonel William Crawford, in the sum- 
mer of 1770, one of these, containing 1,450 acres, included the 
site of the present town of Ravenswood. Two of Washington's 
grand nieces, Henrietta S., wife of Henry Fitzhugh, and Lucy, 
afterward the wife of Arthur M. Payne, inherited this land, and 
between them it was divided in 1812, by Rudolph Roberts, of 
Alexandria, Virginia, the agent of the Washington heirs. They 
caused the town to be laid out in 1836, and named it Ravens- 
worth, in honor of relatives of that name in England. But the 
engravers, who first marked it on the map of Virginia, spelled it 
Ravenswood, and the error was never corrected. 

Before the coming of white men, bands of savages roamed 
over these hills and valleys, and Jackson County is not without 


its part in the record of Indian atrocities, and one among the last 
of these perpetrated within the confines of what is now West 
Virginia, occurred on Big Mill Creek in 1793. In February of 
that year a party of four men left the garrison at Belleville for 
the purpose of obtaining a supply of meat. In a canoe they de- 
scended the Ohio River to the mouth of Big Mill Creek, up which 
stream they proceeded to a point near where Cottageville now 
stands. Here they engaged in hunting, and soon they had an 
abundance of that of which they came in search, but the creek 
had frozen and they were unable to get their canoe out to the 
Ohio. Leaving Malcolm Coleman and James Ryan in camp, 
Elijah Pixley and John Coleman went overland to the garrison. 
Some days later, those left behind were attacked and Coleiiiaii was 
killed and Ryan wounded, not so severely, however, but chat he 
was able to make his escape and return to Belleville. A pai;y at 
once set out for the camp. They found it plundered and the body 
of Coleman stripped of its clothing. The body vv^as buried on the 
spot and the party returned to the garrison. 

But soon the savage was to visit the southern bank of the 
Ohio no more. His warwhoop and stealthy tread were alike to 
cease on these beautiful hills and in these smiling valleys, which 
were soon to become the dwelling place of civilized man. In the 
month of May, 1796, William Hannamon, Benjamin Cox and 
James McDade reared their cabins within the present limits of 
Union District, and were thus the first to establish civilized homes 
in what is now Jackson County. The first two became actual 
settlers and began to fell the forest and cultivate the soil. McDade, 
who was a soldier in the service of Virginia, selected a site for his 
future home, but continued to di.scharge the duties assigned him — 
that of Indian scout — and many days and nights did he spend in 
the dreary wilderness between the mouths of the Great and Little 
Kanawha Rivers, watching to catch a glimpse of the savage foe 
on the shore of the Old Northwest Territory beyond the Ohio. 


Capt. Wm. Parsons and Samuel Tanner were the first settlers 
in Warth's Bottom, they settled there in 1797. John Parsons, son 
of Wm. Parsons, was born in a hollow sycamore tree the same 
year that his father came to Warth's Bottom. Captain Wm. Par- 
sons was the first settler at Ripley and his first wife was the first 
person buried in the old cemetery at Ripley. 

Other bold pioneers came to find homes within the present 
bounds of the county. In the year 1800, Joseph Parsons, Cor- 
nelius King and John Douglas arrived ; David Sayre and Alexan- 
der Warth came in the first year of the century, and Reuben 
Smith came in 1802 ; Thomas and John Hughes came in 1804 ; 
Joseph Hall, Isaac Hide, Isaac Statts and Thomas Flowers, in 
1806. In the year 1807, John DeWitt built the first cabin in 
Muse's Bottom, and a few months later cabins were reared near 
him by John Boso, Thomas DeWitt, John Powers, Thomas Cole- 
man and Ellis Nesselroad ; in 1808, John Nesselroad settled at the 
mouth of Sand Creek and the same year Lawrence Lane erected 
the first cabin on the site of Ravenswood, where he and William 
Bailey, who joined him two years later, cleared forty acres of land. 
Then came George Swope, Noah Robinson, Franklin Wise, Daniel 
Beaty, William Anderson, Eli Grandy, James Dougherty, James 
Stanley and many others, so that by the year 1830, the population 
had increased to such numbers that the following 5-ear the new 
county was checkered on the map of Virginia. In 1840, nearl)- 
sixty years ago, there were 4,890 people in the count3^ which now 
has an enumeration of 20,000. 

The first settlers of Jackson County were as hard)- pioneers 
as ever braved the perils of the wilderness. They were sires of 
noble sons, and the present homelike, and culture' and refinement 
of the county show that the men who have developed it were sons 
of noble sires. They have established courts, secured justice, 
evolved a high moral code, erected churches, built school houses 
— in short, they have developed a civilization as cultured, as re- 


fined, as ennobling as that of other lands. Among the most active 
and potent factors none have been more active and potent than 


which for nearly a hundred years has made its impress upon all 
that has been best in the region in which it has resided, and its 
representatives to-day are among the honored of an honorable 

The family is of German extraction. The founder of the 
family in Jackson County was Isaac Pfost, who early in this 
century removed from a pioneer home in the valley of the West 
Fork of the Monongahela and reared a cabin on lands now the 
property of Sheriff J. O. Shinn on Grass L,ick Creek, a tributary 
of Big Mill Creek, in what is now Jackson County. Here he 
became the possessor of a thousand acres of land. He was one 
of the wealthiest men in the County at the time of its formation, 
and served, in 1831, as a member of the first grand jury that sat 
for the body of the county. He reared a family of seven children, 
five sons — Abraham, Aaron, Isaac, Jr., Jacob and Jonathan, and 
two daughters — Christena and Delia. 

Abraham Pfost was the first born of Isaac Pfost, the founder. 
He married early in life, and reared a family of nine children on 
the farm on which the triple murder was committed. These 
were George W., Allen, Isaac, Francis Marion, Lafayette, Adam, 
Elmira, Elizabeth and Nancy. After the death of Abraham 
Pfost, his widow married, secondly. Rev. William Harrison, a 
prominent member of the Parkersbutg Conference (now the 
West Virginia Conference) of the United Brethren Church. The 
issue of this marriage was Dr. B. E. Harrison, at present a 
practicing and eminent physician residing at Cottageville, Jack- 
son County. 

The fourth of the children of Abraham Pfost was Francis 
Marion, who was born on the farm where the tragedy occurred, 
on the 11th day of January, 1835, and on the 18th day of April, 


Mrs. Chloe Greene's first Husband. 

The Murdered Lady. 



1854 — when in his twentieth year — he was united in marriage 
with Miss Chloe Kountz. She was the daughter of Henry 
Kountz, Esq , who removed from the valle}'^ of the Buckhannon 
River, about the year 1822, and established a home on the waters 
of Pocotalico river within the territory afterwards included in 
Jackson County. He reared a family of eight children — four 
boys and four girls. Chloe, born April 1, 1836, was the eldest of 
the daughters, and the only surviving one at the time of her 
tragic death. Three of her brothers, E. G., residing in Jackson 
County, and G. W., and J. W. Kountz, still survive. The two 
latter are prominent farmers of Mi.ssouri. 

The issue of the marriage of Francis Marion Pfost and 
Chloe Kountz, were : 

(a). Lelia Jane, born January 21, 1855. 

C. W. Pfost's Family and Residence at Fair Plain, W. Va. 


{b). George W., bora January 8, 1857. He was married at 
the age of eighteen, and for sixteen years has been engaged in 
the mercantile business at Fair Plain, Jackson County, West 
Virginia, four miles northwest of the Pfost farm on which he was 
born and reared. He has been successful and is now one of the 
prominent business men of the County. 

{c). Dr. John M. Pfost, born February 1, 1860. He was 
reared in Jackson County, and attended the Public Schools of his 
neighborhood, and afterwards taught in schools for four 
years. In 1879, he began the study of medicine, and in 1881, 
was graduated from the College of Phj'sicians and Surgeons at 
Baltimore, Maryland, with high honors. In March, 1885, he 
began the practice of medicine in Ripley, the seat of justice of 
Jackson County. In 1886, be removed to Grass Lick, his old 
home, where he remained for three years, establishing an exten- 
sive practice. In October, 1889, he located in the town of 
Spencer, the seat of justice of Roane County, where, in addition 
to the practice of his profession, he engaged in the business of 
pharmacy. He is to-day one of the leading physicians of that 
county. On the 22d of March, 1891, he was married to Miss 
Stella, daughter of S. S. Lockney, and sister of State Senator, 
Hon. H. C. Lockney. Two children bless their home. Success 
in business is a characteristic of the family. Dr. Pfost has ex- 
emplified this. 

{d). Hon. H. F. Pfost, born Decmber 21, 1861. He lived on 
the Pfost farm until 1879, when by the consent of his mother 
(his father having died in the year 1873), he went to Ripley, 
Jackson Coupty, West Virginia, with but a few dollars, where he 
secured a position in a drug store, as a clerk at very small wages. 
Having a mind that reached out for better things, he soon bought 
his employer out, on time, and commenced an active business of 
his own which he still pursues. 

On August 10, 1891, when the first Bank was established in 
Ripley, then and now known as " The Bank of Ripley," Mr Pfost 



was chosen its Cashier and also its Director, which positions he 
held until the 10th day of August, 1897, when he was unani- 
mously elected President of said Bank. 

In 1893, The State Board of Public Works appointed him a 
member of the State Board of Pharmacy. At its first meeting 
held at Huntington, West Virginia, Mr. Pfost was elected Secre- 
tary of said Board and also its Treasurer, which positions he now 

On the 17th day of April, 1895, he was united in marriage 
with Miss Flora L. Crow, daughter of William Crow, Esq., one 
of Jackson County's most accomplished young ladies. 

Notwithstanding the fact that Mr, Pfost began business 
without means some eighteen years ago, he is rated as one among 
the wealthiest men of the County. While his business has been 
of such a nature as to prevent him from taking many vacations, 
yet nothing was ever allowed to prevent his frequent visits to the 
" old homestead," which he always loved so well. It has been 





MRS. FLORA L. PFOST AND SON, Wife of Hon. H. F. Pfost. 

his custom ever since he lived at Ripley, to spend a week, twice 
a year with his mother and sisters, although they lived only 
about ten miles from him. 

(e). Sarah, born February 26, 1864 ; died September 9, 1892. 

(/). Susannah, born January 20, 1866. 

(g). Nancy Alice, born January 26, 1869. Though seriously 
wounded, she escaped with her life on the morning of the 

(/i). Matilda M., born May 27, 1871. She was one of the 
victims of the tragedy. 


Francis Marion Pfost, the father of these children, died 
January 18, 1873, and three years later — September, 1876 — his 
widow, Mrs. Chloe Pfost, was united in marriage with Edward 
Greene, Esq., a representative of a family long prominent in 


EDWARD GREENE, Second Husband of Mrs. Cliloe Greene, and Father of 
James Greene, one of Morgan's Victims. 


He and his father were connected with one of the saddest 
events that ever occurred in the settlement of West Virginia. 
The latter, John Greene, left his home in Botetourt County, Vir- 
ginia, about the begmning of the century and settled on Allen's 
Fork of Pocatalico River, now in Jackson County, where he 
reared a family of seven children of which Edward was the 
youngest and an only son. About the time that John Greene 
came westward, Reuben Harrison settled on Mud Lick Fork of 
Thirteen mile Creek now in Mason County. He had several 
sons, among whom were Alexander, Josiah, and Zebulon, the 
youngest, who was, at the time of which we write, twelve years 
of age. These men were all hunters and together engaged in the 
chase ; for this purpose they often visited each other. It was in 
the spring of 1817 that John Greene came to the Harrisons on 


one of these visits, bringing with him his little son Edward, aged 
eleven years. 

One day during their stay, Alexander Harrison a. id Mr. Greene 
were hunting alone on 18-Mile Creek, and after having killed a 
deer, found, about noon, a tree, which, from the scratches, they 
supposed to contain a bear. lycavijig their venison, they hastened 
to the residence of Mr. Harrison — distant seven miles — for the 
purpose of securing axes to fell the tree. When they started to 
return the two boys — Edward Greene and Zebulon Harrison — 
begged that they might be taken along to see the tree felled. 
Their request was granted and the four arrived at the tree late in 
the evening, and upon felling it found no bear. It was quite 
common at that day for hunters to remain out all night, and they 
being weary, concluded not to return home till the next day ; 
they then cast about for a suitable place in which to lodge ; a 
cave under a shelving rock was soon found, and here they built a 
fire and lay down to rest, the men on one side of the fire, the 
boys on the other, neither dreaming of the awful fate in store for 
them. During the night the rock overhead, from the combined 
effect of the frost going out and the fire beneath, burst, and a 
huge mass fell upon them. Both men were crushed from the 
hips down to the feet ; the boys, though badly bruised were able 
to crawl out, owing to the fact that the rock on their side of the 
fire was partially supported by wood which thej'^ had carried in 
for the fire. Morning dawned upon the awful scene, the men 
crushed beneath the weight, from which the boys could not ex- 
tricate them. They cried for water, and the boys poured the 
powder from the horns and brought it. They were bewildered 
and knew not the way home — the only place from which relief 
could come. The day passed away and night came, and no relief; 
another day and night of the most intense suffering, to which 
any human being jvas ever subjected, passed away. Their friends 
at home, alarmed at their long absence,- were searching for them, 
and late in the evening of the fourth day, Josiah Harrison, a 


brother of one of the unfortunate men, found them. What a 
horrid sight met his gaze! Death had already relieved his 
brother from his suffering, and Greene was speechless, while the 
boys were famishing from hunger and ready to die of wounds. 
He put them upon the horse he was riding, and hastened home 
for assistance. As he left, Greene turned his head and cast a long- 
ing look of despair after him. He conducted the boys home, 
and collecting assistance, hastened back to the terribJe spot, but 
when they arrived Green's spirit had taken its flight, -nd he, too, 
was no more. Only two masses, crushed almost bevond recog- 
nition, remained. The rock was removed, atid the bodies taken 
out. No useless coffins enclosed them, logs were cut, from which 
u-ide slabs were split, then narrow graves were dug, a slab put in 
the bottom and two others placed upon edge, the bodies placed 
within, then another slab covered them, and then all that was 
mortal of John Greene and Alexander Harrison was hurried at the 
entrance to tliat cave, and here they now repose. Both the boys 
recovered and grew to be men. Zebulon Harrison died several 
years since. Edward Greene, in 1828, wedded Sarah Parsons, and 
established a home on Grass Lick Creek two years before Jackson 
County was formed. He reared a family of seven children, three 
of whom — John, Smith, and S. T. Greene — still survive, and are 
prominent citizens of the county. The mother died in April, 
1S74, and Kdward Greene, as before stated, wedded, secondly, 
Mrs. Chloe One son — James Frederick — was the issue of 
this marriage. He was born July (!, 1870, his father, Edward 
Greene dying December 18, 1895. This son — James Frederick — 
was one of the victims of the tragedy. 

THE PFOST-GREENE HOME. Lick Creek is the name of a settlement in Jackson 
County, West Virginia. It is about ten miles south from Ripley, 
the county seat, and is a thrifty and populous neighborhood- 
Shocks of fodder yetunhusked stand thick on the fertile bottoms, 




and on the ridges sheep and cattle graze, the calves literally in 
cloyer here and there in the aftermath. Grass Lick is an old 
community, its people in good circumstances, sheltered by com- 
f-irtable homes, practicing the cardinal virtues, fearing God, giv- 
ing of their tithes to the church, at peace with each other and 
with the world. It is ten miles from the disturbing influences of 
a railroad, inhabited by a homogeneous people descended from 
the pioneers who crossed the Alleghany Mountains three or four 
generations ago from the eastward, and has always been one of 
those delightful country places so numerous throughout the land, 
any one of which may be taken as a representative of the found- 
dation of our American greatness — a typical rural community. 
The landscape is in keeping with the neighborhood. The place 
seems to be an ideal spot, an Acadia in its rural simplicity and 
innocent happiness. But the events of recent days have made 
Grass Lick a reproach in Jackson County, and the talk of the 

The Pfost homestead was a model old-time country home, 
and a happier one was nowhere to be found. It was a Sabbath 
day resort for both young and old of all the surrounding country. 
It was the home of song, of happiness and good cheer. Francis 
Marion Pfost and Edward Greene, husbands of the aged mother, 
had passed from among the living; a daughter, Sarah, had died 
early in life. Some of the surviving children had gone from 
beneath the parental roof to find homes for themselves and theirs, 
so that the only inmates of the old' home were the aged mother 
and Nancy, Alice and Matidla M., daughters of the first marriage, 
and James Frederick Greene, the child of the second marriage. 
But the other children — the absent ones — were often there, and 
that mother, who had made all their young lives so happy, never 
ceased to watch and wait for their coming. Often there were 
home gatherings and greetings, because of the honorable and 
successful lives of those to whom she had given birth. Here, 
too, was the abode of charity ; no stranger went from the door 


hungry, nor did the needy go away unsupplied, if their wants 
were made known. To help others was a source of happiness to 
the indwellers here. Such was the Pfost home as years came 
and went, and such it was through the summer of 1897. But the 
destroyer was near; the Angel of Death hovered over that 
hearth-stone; the light which had radiated from it so long, was 
to go out in darkness. The news that went out from this home 
on the morning of the 3d of November shocked the entire com- 
munity and made sad many hearts. 

JOHN F. MORGAN, the Murderer. 


John F. Morgan, who wrought the ruin at the Pfost home, 
is about twenty-two years old ; while he is known by the name of 
Morgan, his true name is Raines. C. T. Morgan and A. M. 
Raines (the real father of John F. Morgan) lived in Jackson 
County, near Gay Post Office, West Virginia, a quarter of a cen- 
tury ago. Morgan and his wife were divorced ; Raines, by ar- 



rangement with Morgan, moved in with him to keep house for 
him. After a time Raines became jealous of Morgan and his 
wife, and shot at Morgan, but Morgan escaped unhurt. Raines 
left the neighborhood for a time, and then returned and delib- 
erately shot Morgan while he (Morgan) was cutting briers in a 
field ; during this time Mrs. Raines had continued to live with 
Morgan, and at the time Raines shot Morgan, John F. Morgan 
(Raines) was but two days old. 

Rev. J. W. Greene's House, where Morgan Lived. 

Raines then fled to Nicholas County, in this State, where he 
was at large for about two years, and was then shot and killed 
while resisting arrest. 

Mrs, Raines a few years later married again and lived on the 
waters of Grass Ivick, two and one-half miles from where the 
Greene family were murdered. This boy, John F. Morgan, (Raines) 
continued to reside with his mother until her death, which 
occurred when he was about nine or ten years old ; he then 


wandered about from place to place, staying from three to twelve 
months at a place, until about the year 1891, when he went to 
make his home with the family the remaining portion of which 
he afterwards deliberately murdered. At the time he went to 
live with them, the Greene family was composed of Edward Greene* 
the husband, Mrs. Chloe E. Greene, his wife, Jimmey F. Greene, 
the Misses Matilda Pfost and Alice Pfost. Edward Greene, the 
husband, died in 1895, while Morgan lived with the Greene family, 
he was treated and cared for, as if he were a son and brother. He 
was with the family for more than five j'ears, remaining until the 
mouth of February, 1896, when he married Miss Rebecca C. Hall, 
a respectable lady of a good family; and in the following March 
he moved to a farm owned by J. W. Greene, one and three-fourth 
miles northwest of where the Greene family lived. Here he 
resided at the time he committed the awful butchery. 

After his marriage, Mrs. Greene often helped him by giving 
him work to do, and grain for bread for himself and his devoted 
wife, when he had not the money with which to bu}' it. 

Mrs. Greene had given him a horse ; this he traded in the 
Spring of 1897, for two younger ones and executed a lien upon 
them to secure a difference of $35.00, which sum was about due 
at the time he murdered the Greene family. 

On Friday evening before the murder, Morgan went to young 
Ed. Southall, who lives with his brother near where the Greene 
family resided and is known to keep money about him, and 
insisted that Ed. should come to his (Morgan's) the next 
day and go squirrel hunting with him, and upon the refusal of 
Southall to go, Morgan went away, and at one o'clock that night 
appeared at the home of Mrs. Chloe E. Greene and called for 
Jimmey Greene, who, when he arose and went out, was told by 
Morgan to get his gun and go with him ; that he (Morgan) had 
two racoons up a tree and that they would go and shoot them ; 
Jimmey dressed, and taking his gun, went with Morgan, who, 
when they had gotten about two hundred yards from the house, 


asked Jimraey if they had received the money yet for a horse that 
they had sold. Jimmey told him that they had not as yet, but 
would get it the next day. They walked on a few steps and then 
Morgan said, " We will go no further as it is too dark to see to 
shoot the raccoons," and calling a boy by name that lived with 
him, said, " he will watch the raccoons till daylight." He then 
went to the house and stayed the rest of the night with Jimmey, 
leaving early the next morning without saying more about the 
raccoons. Jimmey told the family the next morning of the 
strange actions of Morgan, and they expressed the fear that Mor- 
gan might try to get the money, but did not seem to be in the 
least alarmed about the safety of the family or any one of them. 

JAMES GREENE, the Murdered Boy. 
(Taken from a Tintype, when 14 years of age.) 

They told a neighbor, Mr. John Chancey, of Morgan's strange 
actions, and he requested them to let him know if anything 
happened. At six o'clock on the following Tuesday evening, 
which was after dark, Morgan came to Mrs. Greene's house, and 
talked as usual to all the family. Before bed time he asked 
Matilda Pfost to cut his hair. She declined to do so, and he then 
asked her if .she would cut it if he would remain over night, and 
she replied that she presumed that she could do so. Morgan then 
retired with Jimmey Greene and slept with him all night. On 



the next morning, he and Jimmey arose about five o'clock, the 
usual time for the family to arise. Jimmey Greene went out to 
feed the hogs, and Morgan followed him out to the hog-pen, and 
there, with an old mattock, killed him, and then crushed his head 
with a stone. At the same time the aged lady, all unconscious 
of the awful tragedy being enacted without, was telling the two 
daughters to " treat John the best they could ; that she did not 
believe he would hurt them." 

MISS MATILDA PFOST, one of Morgan's Viclims. 
(Sketched from a poorly made tintype, taken six years ago. ) 

In a few moments, Morgan came into the. house, and when 
asked where Jimmey was, replied that he had gone to his traps. 
Matilda said that he had brought in his traps the evening before. 
Then Morgan went out on the porch and whistled in an inaudible 
manner, and then came back into the house, saying that he 
heard Jimmey whistling down in the field. At this time the two 
daughters went out into the kitchen to prepare breakfast, and the 
mother went into a room to make up a bed. Morgan went into 
the kitchen, and then the two former took a lamp and went out 
to the milk-house to get milk for use at breakfast ; on returning, 
one of them remarked that "it is strange that Jimmej' has not 
returned." Morgan then went out on the porch, came back in, 


and said that he heard Jimmey coming ; then he tried to change 
the subject by saying that he " had slept in that room many 
a night." He then struck Matilda on the head with a hatchet, 
twice, after which he turned and struck Alice on the top of the 
head with the same instrument, thus inflicting a frightful wound, 
w^hich caused her to fall, a blade of the weapon having penetrated 
the brain. Matilda had by this time gotten up and was going 
out at the door, when Morgan pursued her. Alice then got up 
and ran out of the kitchen through a closet into the sitting room 
and out to the porch. As she went through the sitting room, she 
looked back and saw Morgan coming through the passage-way 
by the chimney into the sitting room. Matilda had made her wa\- 
to this room, for it was here that she was found dead. Mrs. 
Greene was still in the bed room, with the door closed. Morgan 
battered down the door, splitting it in several pieces, and attacked 
Mrs. Greene with the hatchet, following her in her efforts to 
escape through the sitting room to the porch ; when he left her 
with her feet lying on the edge of the porch, and her body on the 
ground, with four frightful wounds on the head, and there she 
.struggled, dying in her own blood. Alice had taken refuge 
behind a pile of boards for a time, afterward in the corner of a 
hen-house, then concluded that she had better go for help. 
Bleeding, she made her way through the corn-field, and at last, 
almost exhausted from loss of blood and from fright, reached Mr. 
John Chancey's, a distance of four hundred yards. Her screams 
brought Mr. Chancey out, and she told him that John F. Morgan 
was killing her mother and sister. As she ran she heard her 
mother and sister screaming for help, and the latter calling for 
her to come back and get the gun and help them. But Alice did 
not return, and it was we}l that she did not ; for, most assuredly, 
she also would have been killed outright, for it must have been 
the intention of Morgan to kill the entire family, and thus, if pos- 
sible to hide himself from suspicion. But Alice was spared to 
make known to the world who had committed the awful crime. 


Not over 10 or 15 minutes had elapsed until Mr. John 
Chancey, his son William, and Mr. Edward Southall, were on 
the grounds. 

In a few moments a number of people were at the scene, and 
found Mrs. Greene still alive but unconscious. Matilda was found 
in a similar condition, lying on the floor of the sitting room in a 
pool of blood. Jimmy was found dead at the hog-pen and the 
bloody mattock leaning against the fence near at hand. The 
deadly hatchet, with which the women had been killed, was found 
some little distance from the house in the garden toward Mr. 
Chancey's, near where Alice first hid, covered with blood and to 
which gray hairs were clinging. Morgan had, no doubt, started 
to follow Alice as she went to Mr. Chancey's, but was detained 
too long in the butchery of the other members of the family, and 
here, abandoning the pursuit, threw down the cruel hatchet and 
endeavored to make his escape. He went home from the Greene 
residence, getting there about daylight. Rushing through his 
house excited, he says to his wife, " all of them are killed down 
to Cloies ' — (this was the name he always used when referring to 
Mrs. Greene.) His wife saying, "law, who done it?" Morgan 
making the reply, "you will hear who." He was next seen by Mr. 
G. W. Shamblen going through his field, at a distance of about 
four miles from Morgan's home. Mr. Shamblen got his horse and 
a shot gun and went in pursuit of Morgan, overtaking him in a 
short distance. After being compelled to surrender, Morgan said, 
" Don't kill me, I'll give up." Other persons soon arrived upon 
the spot, and Morgan was soon tied with straps and hand-cuffed 
and taken to the scene of the tragedy. This was about 8 o'clock 
A. M., the same morning on which the awful work was performed. 

The news reached Ripley, the county seat, about 8 o'clock 
on the morning of the tragedy ; the Circuit Court of the county 
was then in session, and the business of the court was almost 
suspended. The high Sheriff, J. O. Shinn, State's Attorney J. A. 
Seaman, Coroner D. A. Brown and other officials started at once 


to the scene of the murder ; the people went as fast as they could 
get conveyances, and by 10 o'clock in the morning fully six hun- 
dred people were at the Pfost homestead. 

Sheriff Shinn and his guard, J. W. Shamblen, on arriving, 
took the prisoner in charge and proceeded with him to the scene 
of the murder. The prisoner was trying to play the insane act, 
but upon arriving at the place of the murder he broke down and 
at his own request made the following sworn statement : 

" I, John Morgan, being duly sworn by D. A. Brown, Coroner 
of Jackson County, West Virginia, I am sworn at my own request 
and make this statement under oath free and voluntary, and I 
further say that the same is not extorted from me, nor made by 
me through anj'^ promise in the future. I killed Jimmy Greene, 
Mrs. Greene and Matilda Pfost on the morning of Wednesday, 
the 3d day vof November, 1897. It was between 4 o'clock and 
daylight of said morning. I killed Matilda first, the old lady 
second and Jimmy at the hog-pen. I killed them in self defense. 
I done the crime in defending myself 

Signed, J. F. Morgan." 

" Taken, sworn to and subscribed before me this November 
3d, 1897. Signed D. A. Brown, 

Coroner of Jackson County, W. Va." 

Within a little time thereafter, the sheriff and his deputies 
conveyed the prisoner to the town of Ripley and lodged him in 


The following is a true copy of a letter written by Morgan 
while in jail, the next day after he committed the triple murder. 
This letter was taken from him by Deputy Sheriff R. P. Shinn at 

Morgan's cell : 

" November the 4 1897. 
" Dear brother and sister i want you to state that you both 
heard them threatening my life during the time that i staid with 
them that florence heard them make these these there before you 


and here was niarion and you herd them afterwards the time that 
W litten levied on your stuff and you come to me for the money 
and the said that they would put you out of the way if you dont 
quit askin me for money ever few days rememember this 
"From your brother 

" (Signed) J. F. Morgan." 
" Well Enoch will you make up a squad of ten and come and 
take me out of here i herd miss mrs Wriley say that she will give 
up the Kees up come to night and bring a wrope and protend 
that you are going to hang me." 

MRS. ANNA H. McVAY, Stenographer of the Circuit Court of Jackson Co. 

Who has taken the proceedings of the Court. Mrs. McVay has the distinction of being 

the first lady stenographer that ever practiced in the Courts of the State of West 

Virginia. She has done a great deal of such work in different Counties. 


The Circuit Court was in session at the time of the awful 
act, and on the morning of Thursday, November 4, 1897, the 
following witnesses were sent 'before the Grand Jury, which was 
still in session, for the purpose of giving information before that 
body concerning what was possibly the most terrible crime ever 


committed in the State : D. A. Brown, John W. Shamblen and 
J. O. Shinn, and in a very short while the Grand Jury returned 
into open court the following three Indictments against the 
prisoner, John F. Morgan, viz.: 

" State of West Virginia vs. John F. Morgan. No. 1. — In- 
dictment for murder. A True Bill. J. B. Morgan, Foreman." 

" State of West Virginia vs. John F. Morgan. No. 2. — In- 
dictment for Murder. J. B. Morgan, Foreman." 

" State of West Virginia vs. John F. Morgan. No. 3. — In- 
dictment for Murder. J. B. Morgan, Foreman." 

The Grand Jury that so promptly discharged their duty in 
finding those Indictments, was composed of the following gentle- 
men : J. B. Morgan, Foreman, Samuel Dudgeon, W. R. Fergu- 
.son. C. A. Jewel, E. J. Robinson, A. C. Robinson, J. M. Chevuront, 
E. L. Nusem, M. S. Scarbrough, D. L. Floyd, James McDermit, 
Monroe Miller, Kinsey Rand, J. H. Harpold, W. M. Pruden, and 
D. W. Winter. 

The Court at once ordered the Sheriff to bring the prisoner 
into Court room, and in a few moments Sheriff J. O. Shinn, as- 
sisted by Deput\' R. P. Shinn and Jailor B. F. Riley, appeared in 
Court with the prisoner, who appeared as cool as if nothing had 
ever happened in which he was concerned ; and when asked by 
the Court if he had an Attorney, replied that he had one; and 
when asked who was his attorney, replied that it was Mr. D. A. 
Brow n ; whereupon Mr. Brown stated to the Court that the prisoner 
had nothing with w hich to pay an attorney to defend him ; and after 
some inquiry by the Court as to what property the prisoner had, 
the Court appointed Mr. D. A. Brown to defend the prisoner on 
his trial for the murder of Mrs. Chloe Greene, Indictment No. 1. 

Thereupon, Attorney Brown, appeared to the case and de- 
murred to the Indictment and entered the plea of " Not Guilty " 
and a.sked that the wife of the prisoner and the sister, Mrs. Enoch 
Casto and her husband be summoned as witnesses for the 
prisoner, an officer was at once dispatched for the witnesses and 


the Court proceeded to impannel a jury to try the prisoner for 
the murder of Mrs. Chloe Greene ; and after several of the panel 
of twenty had been discharged because having made up or ex- 
pressed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner, 
a proper panel of twelve was obtained, composed of the following 
named gentlemen : J. D. Bradley, George Gatchell, A. D. 
Arnold, J. N. Province, J. W. Lambert, W. L. Safereed, M. A. 
Pinnell, G. W. Franklin, A. L. Arnold, John Alexander, S. D. 
Carter and J. B. Casto. 

The witnesses for the prisoner not having arrived, the Jury 
was charged and placed in the custody of two Deputy Sheriffs 
and the prisoner taken back to Jail. And after transacting some 
other business, the Court adjourned until Friday morning, 
November 5th, at 8 o'clock, a. m. 

When Court convened on Friday morning, the Jury filed into 
the Court room and the prisoner was brought in by the Sheriff 
and guard, and as the prisoner walked up the isle of the court 
room supported by each arm by the Sheriff and guard, the im- 
mense crowd present, which had packed the court room almost 
to suffocation, looked upon him with intense interest, the prisoner 
appeared very much excited, and when reaching the Bar of the 
Court asked, " where is my wife? " And when informed b\- the 
Sheriff that his wife would be in in a few moments, took his seat 
between the Sheriff and the guard, and in about five minutes 
the wife of the prisoner appeared supported by a Deput}', bearing 
in her arms her infant child, aged nine months, on that day. 

The Court than asked Attorney Brown what he had to say, 
in reply the Attorney said, " if the witnesses are all here I am 
ready," and the Sheriff stated that the witnesses were all present, 
and the Court then asked Mr. Brown if he was ready, to which 
the Attorney replied, " I think we are." 

The Court then said, " I will again ask the Jury as an extra 
precaution, if they have maintained their competency as Jurors," 
and asked Mr. Brown if he desired to be present at such inquiry, 


to which Mr. Brown replied " I do not." The Court then said, 
" Gentlemen of the Jury, the Court will now inquire of you all 
of the original questions propounded when you were first im- 
pannelled, and will incidentally asked you some different ones, 
as to those questions asked you yesterday and passed upon by the 
Court unless you have some different view of it this morning, 
you will please make no reply about those matters. 

First Question. — Are you and each of you residents of the 
of State of West Virginia ? 

To which all answer with a nod. 

2d Q. — Are you and each of you residents of Jackson 
County ? 

To which question they all answer with nod. 

3d Q. — Are you or either of you related to by blood or mar- 
riage to John Morgan ? 

To which Mr. J. B. Casto says : If he was born in our 
neighborhood, I might possibly be some relation to him but no 
blood relation. 

4th Q. — Have you any knowledge of it, if you are related to 
the prisoner? 

4th A. — I would be about third cousin to his mother, if his 
mother was a Rollins ; I would be his mother's third cousin. 

5th Q. — Propounded to the prisoner: "Where were you 

5th A. — I was born up there some where about Gay ; I was 
small when my mother left me. The Court calls for private con- 
sultation, Mr. Brown and Seaman. 

6th Q. — Propounded to the defendant : Mr, Morgan, the 
Court desires to inquire of you in person whether or not, if it 
should be so that Mr. Casto, a member of the jury, will sit on 
your case, is a relative of yours, whether or not it is an objection 
on your part to him serving as such juror ? 

6th A. — No, sir, I have no objection. 

7th Q. — Mr. Casto, you will be retained. If you are a rela- 


tive the Court has no knowledge of it, and if it should be that 
you believe that you are a relative of the prisoner, would it affect 
your judgment either as to his guilt or innocence in passing upon 
this alleged offense ? 

7th A.— Not at all, sir. 

8th Q. — Are either of the others related to John Morgan by 
blood or marriage ? 

9th Q.— Are either of you related by blood or connected by 
marriage with Chloe E. Greene, known as Chloe E. Pfost before 
her marriage to Greene, and after as Chloe E. Greene ? 

10th Q. — Have you or either of you made up or expressed 
an opinion regarding the guilt or innocence of the prisoner on 
the charge of murdering Chloe E. Greene ? 

10th A.— No, sir. 

lith Q. — Are you or either of you sensible of any bias or 
prejudice for or against the prisoner? 

11th A.— No sir. 

12th Q. — Have you or either of you any conscientious scru- 
ples against inflicting the death penalty if warranted by the law 
and the evidence? 

13th Q. — Gentlemen, do either of you know of any other 
matter since yesterday or any reason as to why you should not 
act as jurors in this case? 

14th Q. — Since your impannelling on yesterday have either 
ot you talked about this matter among yourselves ? 

15th Q. — Has any person talked about it or in your presence 
of it? 

16th Q. — Have you been kept constantly together since you 
have been impannelled ? 

17th Q. — Propounded to the defendant : The Court will ask 
you in person whether you desire to enter the plea of " not 
guilty " in this case? 

17th A. — Yes, sir. The Court directs the Clerk to enter a 
plea of " not guilty" in this case. 


Also directs the Prosecuting Attorney to have witnesses for 
the State called, which he does. Dr. Bechtel and Miss Alice 
Pfost not answering, the Court instructs the SheriflF to take a rule 
and attachment for Dr. Bechtel, and also to take with him Dr. 
p. J. Casto, to ascertain if the Miss Alice Pfost is able to be 
brought to Court. To which Mr. Shinn, Sheriff, replies that " I 
am informed by Mr. Casto's sou that Dr. Bechtel, with Miss 
Pfost, is coming near town." Court says " You had better get 
your cab and go and meet them." To which remark tlic Sheriff 
replies, " It is reliable information." The Court orders ihat the 
Sheriff will go to meet them and take a cab, the most easj^ one 
that can be found " for Miss Alice Pfost, and take Dr. Casio with 
him to ascertain her condition ; if they should meet Dr. Bechtel 
on the road without Miss Pfost, that he is to return to where she 
is to help report her condition. And further says to the Sheriff, 
when the lady witness does come, you need not bring her into 
the court room, but leave her with some of her friends in some 
convenient proximity. Sheriff asks, "Did the Court say to take 
Dr. Casto?" Ans. " Yes, or any other reputable physician con- 
venient ; you may go and get ready, Mr. Sheriff, the Court will 
send the rule to wherever your team is. The Sheriff calls for O. 
J. Casto, M. D. ; he is not to be found within the courtroom, 
and .some one .says that he is in his office the street ; and 
the Court .says, " If you don't find him, Mr. Sheriff, take some 
other reputable physician." Dr. O. J. Casto is called from the 
front door of the court-house. The Clerk gives the rule and at- 
tachment to Henry Mahan to deliver to the Sheriff. 

At this point a letter is handed to the Court for one of the 
jurymen (Mr. Franklin), the Court hands him letter to see if he 
recognizes handwriting, which he says he does, as it is from 
home, and that the Court may open and read it. This is done 
and the Court reports that it contains name of a witness to go 
before the Grand Jury and some instructions as to making some 
purchases of dry goods. 


Dr. Bechtel appears in a short time, all the witnesses being 
present or in close proximity ; everything seems to be in readi- 
ness but the presence of the Prosecuting Attorney, and whom 
the Court instructs shall be called for at the front door of the 
court-house. The wife of the prisoner is carried out by Dr. Bechtel 
and Mrs. Hunt (nee Bradley) who says she has known her for a 
long time. The court-house at this time is crowded to its fullest 
extent, with spectators crowding into the bar and almost to suflFo- 
cation, Mr. Seaman not appearing. It is 11 o'clock and the 
Court ordered that the prisoner be remanded to jail before any of 
the crowd leaves ; announces that court will be adjourned until 
12:45 p. m. Directs that the crowd at the front part of the court- 
house shall pass out and so on, until the court-house is cleared. 

State of West Virginia,'^ 

vs. > For Murder. 

John Morgan. ) 

Court convenes at 1 o'clock p. m. on Friday. The counsel 
for the State and defendant announce that they are ready for 
trial. Court directs that the Clerk should read the indictment to 
the jury, which indictment is as follows : 


State of West Virginia, County of Jackson, to-wit : 
In the Circuit Court of said County: 
The Grand Jurors of the State of West Virginia in and for 
the body of the County of Jackson, and now attending the said 
court, upon their oaths present, that John F. Morgan, on the 
day of November, one thousand eight hundred and ninety- 
seven, in said county, wilfully, maliciously, deliberately, unlaw- 
fully and feloniously did slay, kill and murder one Chlop E. 
Greene, against the peace and dignity of the State. 

Upon the information of D. A. Brown, John W. Shamblen 
and J. O. Shinn, sworn in open court and sent to the Grand 
Jury to give evidence on this indictment. 

J. A. Seaman, 
Prosecuting Attorney. 



The State requests that the stenographer be sworn. Court 
directs the Clerk to swear in Mrs. Annie H. McVay as stenogra- 
pher for the case. The Clerk being engaged, stenographer is 
sworn by Court. The Court instructs the jury that the defend- 
ant enters a plea of not guilty to the indictment, and it devolves 
upon the State to prove each and every allegation in the indict- 
ment. Clerk calls for the State's witnesses to come and be 
sworn, in this open space around here in front. 

Pieces of door chopped down by Morgan to reach the aged lady, and also implements 
used by him in the murder of his victims. 


Doctor J. M. Bechtel, first witness for the State, being duly 
sworn, says : 

1st Q. — Where do you live ? 

1st A.— At Fair Plain. 

2d Q. — If a physician, how long have you been practicing? 

2d A.— About 36 years. 


3d Q. — Were you acquainted with the deceased Mrs. Chloe 
E. Greene in her life time? -^ '^}i'C^iJ*^J^ ^ 

3d A — Yes, I have known her for about 34 or^o years. 

4th Q. — What was her age? 

4th A. — Well, she was over 60 years of age, I am satisfied 
that she was over that; I have a memorandum of their ages that 
was called from the bible, called to me from the record; I forgot 
her exact age, I have a memoranda of it in my pocket. 

5th Q. — State what was her physical condition, give her size? 

5th A. — She was a fairly well-preserved woman for her age, 
but she had deficiency in her sight ; at one time she had been 
nearly blind ; I should judge the woman would weigh between 
150 and 160 pounds; was five feet tall, for I measured her. 

6th Q. — If you were present at the time of her death, or 
while she was lingering, and until after her death, and made an 
examination, tell the court and jury what you discovered ; give a 
history as nearly as you can of what you discovered ? 

6th A I did not arrive at the scene of the tragedy until 
she was murdered, until after she was dead ; she had been dead a 
short time ; her body was j^et warm ; muscular rigidity had not 

7th Q. — What wounds, if any, did you find ; give their loca- 
tion and the character? 

7th A. — By Your Honor's permission, I will introduce a skull 
to more thoroughly delineate to the jury the way the wounds were 
inflicted — 

8th Q.— Propounded by the Court: " Does the State desire 
to introduce that skull? 

8th A. — By Prosecuting Atttorney Seaman : " Yes, sir." 

7th A. — Continued : If Your Honor please, I will present 
this skull. This wound was located on the right-hand side of the 
skull, was one and one-half inches long; there was a decided 
depression of the skull, traversing in this direction, that part was 
depressed inward upon the brain, you all see it, do you? This 


wound was about one inch and one-fourth ; we allowed it was 
about one inch at the base ; the wound on the integument was 
longer than the skull; I mean by the integument the covering of 
the skull ; that wound was near the occiput suture ; that wound 
making that depressed fracture, inflicting that kind of a wound 
pressing in that way would necessarily affect one of the main 
circular tions in the head, one of the main vessels carry- 
ing the blood ; it is what is called the posterior of the longitudinal 
sinus ; from that wound proceeded, in my estimation, the most of 
the blood the woman lost, which was quite a quantity ; where she 
was lying, the grass and yard was covered and saturated; her 
feet were laying on the porch and her head laying out on the 
rocks ; it was part of the step-way to the porch. That wound 
was evidently inflicted with the same instrument as the wounds I 
shall describe hereafter. Had she have fallen she could not have 
hurt herself; if she had fallen back over the steps I don't think 
she would have received the wound; that wound alone would 
have produced death in my estimation. (Counsel for defendant 
objects to the witness speaking as an expert. Court directs the 
witness that from the examination he has made, that he can give 
the consequence of the wound.) 

Witness : — I will say positively that I know no one could 
survive such a wound. Extravasation of blood at the base of the 
brain is a wound of the most fatal occurrence in connection with 
the wound on the head. The next wound, gentlemen of the jury, 
that I shall proceed to describe was inflicted as near as I can 
locate it, upon the head as this line is drawn upon this skull; that 
wound was four inches long, evidently inflicted with a fairly 
sharp instrument. Upon probing it, I had a very light probei 
much lighter than this, I just let it drop down this way two 
inches and a half, showing that cerubum substance had been 
divided, these edges did not give so far in as the middle of the 
fracture, the suture gave away where these bones are reunited, 
that the doctors call suture, this edge become depressed under the 


frontal bone ; that, without doubt, would have caused death to 
the person. It affected the sensory and motor nerves to the 
extent of producing immediate paralysis. Here was another wound 
one and one-half inch long ; this wound or cut would be in a very 
fatal position too, you know ; it is in the vicinity of the tempor 
region, and so, gentlemen of the jury, you see how most of these 
licks were made. The probabilities are that the corner of the 
hatchet penetrated down here; this superior orbital blood pos- 
sibly through to the coalroid, and to that wound would be 
attributed the discoloration or darkening of the face. I would 
not say that this wound would necessarily prove fatal. In 
examining these wounds, after making the desired examination 
in regard to this wound, and arriving at suflScient evidence to 
convince us, there were two wounds, the nature of which would 
be fatal, we thought it unnecessary to make any further disfigure- 
ment of the subject, so that they might be presentable to their 
friends — for in order to make a thorough investigation, it is a 
great disfigurement of the countenance. You see this puncture 
of the skull ; there was evidently a corner of some sharp instru- 
ment which went right down here ; the bone, was separated 
undoubtedly there; from this wound here I believe exuded as 
much as two ounces of brains ; I removed two ounces of brains 
that had exuded and lay on the floor, and the rest of the brains 
that lay on the floor, I put back in and sewed it up. I did not 
see her until after she was dead and carried into the house ; that 
was where this exudation of the brain was, after she was taken 
in the house. It would not have been possible for these wounds 
to have been made by a blunt instrument, as cleanly cut as those 
wounds were, and as the scalp seemed to be, the instrument could 
not have been very dull ; it could have been dull if it had been 
struck with great force; it could not have been a blunt instru- 
ment. Two of these wounds would have been necessarily fatal ; 
I am positive about that wound. The other wound, with the 



hetnorrage that occurred at the base of the brain, death would 
have occurred any time within one-half to six or eight hours. 
(The witness was not cross-examined.) 

Scene in the Court room while Merman was being sentenced. 


Dr. O. J. Casto, second witness for the State, being duly 
sworn, says : 

1st Q. — Were you present at the examination of the deceased 
after they had been wounded ; if so, if you got there before her 
death or afterwards ; state what you found upon the examination? 

1st A. — I arrived at the scene after the old lady had died, was 
present at the autopsy and we found the wounds as described by 
Dr. Bechtel, these different wounds upon her head; the one wound 
in posterior portion of the brain was inflicted by a sharp instru- 
metit, four inches in length, entering the brain, and the brain was 
exuding at the time of the examination, that is, a portion of it. 

2d Q. — Was there anything about the wound or inclination 
of the wound by which you could tell whether the victim had 


been struck from behind, or had been struck by some one before ? 

2d A. — The wound over the eyebrow was possibly struck 
by some one standing in front, this wound on the back portion of 
the head was struck from behind. 

3d Q. — State to the jury — I will ask you if you are a prac- 
ticing physician ? 

3d A.— I am. 

4th Q. — What was the necessary effect of these wounds? 

4th A. — Two of these wounds would have been necessarily 

5th Q. — The two mentioned by Dr. Bechtel? 

5th A. — Yes, sir. This one in the back part of the head and 
one on the top part. 

Gth Q. — Were you acquainted with the deceased during her 
lifetime ? 

Gth A. — No, sir. I was not. 

(The witness was not cross-examined). 


John Chancey, third witness for the State, being duly sworn, 

1st Q. — How far do you live from the home where the de- 
ceased lived during her lifetime ? 

1st A. — Well, it is about 400 yards. 

2d Q. — State if you were present at the place of this occur- 
rence on the morning thereof, if so, about what time ? 

2d A. — Yes, sir. I was there, it was between — it must have 
been 5 o'clock in the morning. 

3d Q. — Did you see the deceased, Mrs. Chloe Greene, on that 
occasion ; if so, where and under what circumstances ? 

3d A. — When I got there in front of the house Mrs. Chloe 
Greene was laying on her back with her head out off the porch 
and her feet up against the porch, struggling in her blood. 




COIRT HOUSE OF JACKSON COUNTY, in which the trial took place 

4th Q. — Who was present there, if any person, at the time 
you got there ? 

4th A. — Nobody but the two boys that went with me. 

5th Q. — If you saw a mattock there at that time — look at 
this mattock — and see if you saw it? (Witness is here handed 
over the mattock by the Prosecuting Attorney to identify). 

5th A. — Yes, sir. I saw that mattock setting around the 
corner of the palings of the house. 

6th Q. — If you saw this hatchet there on that occasion, state 
where it was? (Witness is handed hatchet to identify). 

6th A. — I saw that hatchet over in the garden back of the 

7th Q. — In the garden did you say ? 

7th A.— Yes, sir. 


8th Q. — What was the condition of the hatchet at that time ? 

8th A. — It was in the condition that it is now, only a little 
more bloody, and hair on it. 

9th Q. — What kind of hair was on it ? 

9th A. — It looked like woman's hair. 

ICth Q. — Were the hairs black or otherwise ? 

10th A. — They were dark looking. 

11th Q. — How came you to go there? 

11th A. — Alice Pfost came after me to my house. 

12th Q. — And you went in response to her invitation ? 

12th A.— Yes, sir. 

13tli Q. — In what county did you find Mrs. Greene when you 
went there and found her in that condition ? 

13th A. — Jackson County. 

14th Q. — Were yo\i present at the time of her death? 

14th A. — Yes, sir. 

15th Q. — State if she was conscious at any time after you 
found her up to the time of her death ? 

15th A. — She was not conscious of anything. 


16th Q. — About how far from the house did you find this 
mattock ? 

16th A. — Probably it would be fifty feet from the house. 

17th Q. — In what direction ? 

17th A. — Rather in northwest direction. 

18th Q. — You say it was laying by the palings ? 

18th A.— Yes, sir. 

Re-Direct Examination. 

19th Q. — You say you found the mattock in the northwest 
direction ? 

19th A.— Yes, sir. 


20th Q. — From where it lay, was it in the direction of the 
hog-pen ? 

20th A.— Yes, sir. 

21st Q. — Do you know where the body of Jas. F. Greene was 
found, near the hog-pen ? 

21st A. — Yes, sir. (objection by counsel of defendant.) 
22d Q. — Is that the Hogpen that you spoke of? 
22d A. — Yes, sir. (Court over-ruled the objection.) 


John W. Shamblen, fourth witness for the State, being duly 
sworn, says: 

1st Q. — Are you acquainted with defendant, here at the bar, 
John Morgan? 

1st A. — Yes, sir, I am aquainted with him, I have often seen 
him in the last four or five years, oflF and on. 

2d Q. Did 3'ou have a conversation with him in reference 
to the death of Mrs. Chloe Greene? 

2d A. — Yes, sir. 

3d Q — If he told you who killed her and with what she 
was killed, tell it to the Court and jury ? 

( Objection by counsel for defendant, saying that it is proper 
in a case of this kind if you are attempting to prove a confession 
or declaration to show that it was freely made and without hope 
of reward. Court: — "I understood that to be the case, when it 
is objected to, the Court would not interfere in any matter that 
is reasonable without that matter is objected to." ) 

Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Seaman asks, " Mr. Brown, Coun- 
sel for defendant : If you have a statement that this man has 
sworn to, I wish you would let me have it." 

Mr. Brown in reply, saj'S: — " I have not, I turned it over to 
the Grand Jury." 

4th Q. — Were you an officer of the Court at the time you 
had this conversation with this man ? 


4th A. — Mr. Shinn told me he would deputize me to help 
take charge of him. 

5th Q. — Did you hold out any inducements or hope of re- 
ward to him to get him to make this confession or use any in- 
fluence on him to get him to make a confession ? 

5th A. — I did not offer him any reward or use any influence 
to get him to make a statement, he just acted to me as if he did 
not know me from anybody else, and I said to him — 

(The Court instructs the jury that this evidence is for the 
Court alone to consider, that they will not consider it at all.) 

I said to him — Mr. Morgan, if I were you, I would straighten 
up and not act this wa}' ; that the people know you are .sane ; it 
would be better for you to straighten up and tell a straight story, 
if 5-ou know anything about this matter." 

Counsel for defense makes motion that the evidence con- 
cerning the confession may be stricken out. Court rules that the 
confession may be stricken out unless something had intervened, 
that it is improper. 

Prosecuting Attorney asks the Court to swear Mr. D. A. 


1st Q. — Mr. Brown, is that your signature? 

1st A. — Yes, sir. 

2d Q. — You can just tell the jury what you know about that? 

2d A. — Well, all I know about this paper is, that after I had 
returned from Mr. Chancey's, above where this occurrence had 
taken place, I met Mr. Shinn, the Sheriff", and he told me the de- 
fendant was down with Mr. Shamblen in the field there, as well 
as I remember, I don't say that I will use his word exactly, there 
was something said that he wanted to make a confession or state- 
ment, or something to that effect ; I went down with Mr. Shinn to 
where he, the defendant was, and he and Mr. Shamblen were 
sitting on a log, and this statement was made by him. 


3d Q. — Did you hold out any inducements to him or make 
him any promises of protection ? 

3d A.— No, sir. 

4th Q. — Did you then and there notify him there was none 
to be held out, and that he had to make the statement freely and 
of his will, if he wanted to make it to you ? 

5th Q. — Propounded by the Court : You may state what 
was said ? 

5th A. — It seems as if he had had a conversation with Mr. 
Shinn, the Sheriff, and that it was understood that such a confes- 
sion or statement was to be made, I don't know whether it was 
understood or not, that it was to be taken under oath, however, I 
warned him against it, I told him the consequences of it. 

6th Q.— What did you tell him ? 

6th A. — As near as I could tell him that I wanted him to 
understand, if he made a statement to me, it was made without 
any promises of protection or offer of reward, and that he was 
not compelled to make it, just about the language used in the 

(Your Honor, my objection to this affidavit is that the 
prisoner was in the custody of two officers, and I don't think, 
under the law, that this affidavit ought to be allowed to go to the 
jury, unless it is shown it is by his own free will and a voluntary 
statement without any promise of protection. I don't think it 
is a proper document to go to the jury). 

{By the Court: "That is the law unquestionably, where 
there is any promise or hope of reward or any inducement in any 
way, it is improper for the confession to go before the jury as 
evidence ; it must be freely and voluntary made in the strictest 
sense before it is taken as testimony, and where a statement has 
been made, it must be an act free and voluntary, and after hope 
and fear has subsided, the facts would have to appear to the Court 
showing that before it could go in as testimony. The Court will 
further inquire of you, Mr. Shamblen, how long was it after the 
prisoner talked first to you about the matter, until this affidavit 
or statement in writing was given ?) 


6th A. — I suppose about ten or fifteen minutes; I would not 
be just certain about the time, it was not very long. 

7th Q. — Were you present when this conversation occurred 
between Mr. Brown and the prisoner? 

7th A.— Yes, sir. 

8th Q. — You may state to the Court the entire conversation 
that took place between the prisoner and Mr. Brown and others 
or yourself, before this written statement was made ? 

8th A. — When Mr. Brown said that, he stood up and looked 
me in the eyes, he says, ' gentlemen, I am going to quit acting a 
fool, I want to make a true statement of this affair, he says, I 
killed these people.' 

9th Q. — I want you to tell the conversation that occurred be- 
tween Mr. Brown and the prisoner? At that time? 

9th A. — I think Mr. Brown, as near I can remember, says to 
Mr. Morgan, I don't just remember, but I think he says, ' I un- 
derstand that you want to confess or make a statement,' I won't 
be certain which word he used in this matter, and Morgan says 
' yes, I do,' and Mr. Brown says * has anybody threatened you, 
or tried to induce you in any way to make this statement or do 
you make it of your own free will, and if you do make it, that is 
the way you must make it, of your own free will,' and Mr. Morgan 
remarked, that ' I make it of my own free will,' that is about 
the language as near as I can tell it. 

10th Q. — By the Court : Before the prisoner was brought 
into the presence of Mr. Brown, was there any further or addi- 
tional statement offered by you to the prisoner to make the con- 
fession, or was there anything more said whether it would be 
better or worse for him before you brought him in the presence 
of Mr. Brown? 

10th A. — I do not think there was anything further than 
what I have stated to you, nothing further than when he straight- 
ened up and said he was going to tell all about it ; he says I want 
you to keep everybody away, I don't want anybody here but Mr. 


Brown and Mr. Shinn ; he said that when I told him it would be 
better to straighten up and tell all he knew about the affair, that 
no one believed but what he was sane. 

11th Q. — Had Mr. Shinn come to you before Mr. Brown? 

11th A.— I called Mr. Shinn. 

12th Q. — Had Mr. Shinn offered any inducement stating that 
it would be better for him to make a statement, and tell all about 
the affair? 

12th A. — I don't think he did. I think I called him and 
told him Mr. Morgan wanted to make a statement of it, and I 
think that Mr. Shinn called to Perry Greene, as well as I remem- 
ber, told Perry Greene that he was going to make a confession if 
he wanted to hear it, and I think he told Mr. Morgan that Perry 
Greene would be present. 

13th Q. — Was this conversation you had with the prisoner, 
>iad in relation to the matter regarding his insanity or regarding 
his confession that he was going to give? You say you told him 
it would be better for him to .straighten up. Did that apply to 
some question of his insanity, or did it apply to the facts he was 
going to state ? 

13th A. — When I first was talking to him, I told him it 
would be better for him not to go on that way, that it was the 
opinion of everybody that he was just putting it on. 

14th Q. — Was that in regard to straightening up or the 
confession that he was going to make? 

14th A. — That was in regard to straightening up, the con- 
fession came afterward. I think I told Mr. Morgan afterwards 
if there was any one else interested in the crime that it would be 
better and right for him to tell all he knew about it. 

15th Q. — Did you tell him it would be better for him to 
make a confession? 
loth A. — No, sir. 

16th Q. — Does the Court understand from you that you told 
him it would be better for him to straighten up and not feign 
insanity ? 



16th A. — I told him I thought it would be better to 
straighten up and tell all he knew about the matter. 

(The Court rules that the conversations had between the 
witness and the defendant will be excluded from the jury, but the 
statement made there before Mr. Brown is regarded as proper to 
go before the jury. To all of which the counsel for defendant 
objects. The Court requests that he be handed the paper to 

MISS ALICE PKOST, Sister of Matilda, who escaped. 
(Taken from a portrait shortly after she was wounded.) 


B. ly. Rudman, fifth witness adduced by the State, being 
duly sworn, says : 

1st Q. — Does that look like, your handwriting? 
1st A. — Yes, sir. 


2d Q. — State under what circumstances you wrote it ? 

2d A. — I was acting as secretary for the Coroner, Mr. D. A. 
Brown, upon this case. I wrote this statement as it appears. 

3d Q. — By the Court : Under what circumstances? 

3d A. — When Mr. Brown related to him, before this was 
taken, that he would not take his statement under any promise 
of protection. I believe he used about the same language as is 
embodied in the statement, word for word. 

4th Q. — Who signed the defendant's name to this paper? 

4th A. — J. F. Morgan, the defendant. 

Paper in question is read to the Court and jury. 

" I, John Morgan, being sworn by D. A. Brown, Coroner of 
Jackson County, W. Va., says : I am sworn at my own request 
and make this statement under oath free and voluntary, and I 
further say that the same is not extorted from me, nor made by 
me through any promise in the future. I killed Jimmie Greene, 
Mrs. Greene and Matilda Pfost, on the morning of Wednesday, 
the 3d day of November, 1897. It was between 4 o'clock and 
daylight of said morning. I killed Matilda first, the old lady 
second and Jimmie at the hog-pen. I killed them in self defense. 
I done the crime in defending myself 

" Signed, J. F. Morgan." 

" Taken, sworn to and subscribed before me this November 
3d, 1897. Signed, D. A. Brown, 

Coroner of Jackson County, West Virginia." 

(Exceptions to the rulings of the Court and to the reading of 
the aflSdavit.) 

5th Q. — Were you acquainted with these people in their life 

5th A. — No, sir. 

6th Q. — This statement was made where ? 

6th A. — Just back at the side of the barn near where the 
tragedy occurred. 

the pfost-greene tragedy. 4!> 

Cross Examination. 

7th Q. — Were you present when I came up to the defendant 
there where this paper was made ? 

7th A. — Yes, I was standing right with you. 

8th O. — Did you hear the statement that Mr. Shamblen made 
as to what was said when I came up there ? 

8th A. — No, sir, I don't just remember what Mr. Shamblen 
said, you and Mr. Shamblen was a little away from me, and I did 
not hear it. 

9th Q. — You heard the conversation that I directed to the 
defendant ? 

9th A. — Yes, sir. 

10th O.— State to the Court whether I said to him on that 
occasion, that if any one had made him any promises of an\- kind 
or offered him any inducement or held out any threats that I 
would not take the statement ? 

10th A. — I understood you to say that you would not take 
the statement under an}' promise of protection. 

11th Q. — Did I make the statement that I would not lake 
the statement if an}' promises had been held out to him J* 

11th A.— Xo, sir. 


J. O. Shinn, Sheriff, being duly sworn, says: 

1st Q. — Are you the present High Sheriff of this county? 

1st A. — Yes, sir. 

2d Q. — Did you have control of Mr. Morgan on the da\ fol- 
lowing this tragedy on the ground there ? 

2d A.— I did. 

8d Q. — What was his course of conduct when you got him 
into your po.ssession? 

3d A. — When he was brought down to the wagon, I went u]i 
to the road and took charge of him ; he was laying on the bed of 


the wagon on some hay, with his feet strapped and his hands tied 
with hand-cuffs; we took hitn, and I deputized an officer; he and 
myself helped him over the fence and lifted him along, until we 
got down to the fence next to the house ; his actions were very 
strange; he was making a noise, hissing, tearing his clothes; 
occasionally he would halloo ; he would spit at one, and different 
things like, and kind of grinning and hissing all the timfe ; that 
lasted until we got him down to the fence near the garden, and 
the crowd gathered around us so extensively, I thought the best 
thing to do was to disperse the crowd, so I got the fellows we had 
there to take him around by the creek and around towards the 
barn past the bars, and then I went to get the crowd to stand back ; 
I told him and Mr. Sliamblen to sit down there and wait until I 
came back. 

4th Q. — State, if you at any time during the time he was in 
\our custody, or in the custody of any other person^ if you heard 
any promises of protection or by any other inducement made to 
him to make any statement in this matter? 

4th A. — When I left him on this log, to make that plain, I 
left Mr. Shamblen, there with him, while I went to disperse 
and keep the crowd back ; I was gone perhaps ten or fifteen 
minutes, Mr. Shamblen called me to him, and when I come back, 
Mr. Shamblen told me that John wanted to make a confession, 
and tell just what had happened there ; that is the first I knew 
what had happened there ; that is the first I 'lad heard of it ; I 
says. I will step down here and call Mr. Perry Greene, which I 
did, and stationed some other parties to keep back the crowd, 
and then sat down by him ; he says, I want the crowd kept away ; 
he says, I am ready to pay the debt, but I want to be protected ; 
I says, "I will protect you at all risks;" that I would protect 
him best I could there, as far as I could, that is all the induce- 
ment, if that is an inducement, that I offered him. 

the pfost-greene tragedy. 51 

Cross Examination. 

5th Q. — What was said by Mr. Shamblen to him, if anything, 
about this crime, before you got to where you set him down ? 

5th A.- -There was not anything. 

t)th Q. — What was said after you got him down there in your 
presence, if anything? 

6th A. — When I left him and Mr. Shamblen there, he was 
not talking : he would not talk. 

7th Q. — What was said when 3^ou went back to him ? 

7th A. — It was just as I have stated ; Mr. Shamblen called 
me and said Mr. Morgan wanted to make a statement, and I just 
stepped back and asked Mr. Morgan if he would have any objec- 
tion to some persons being present ; he said he would have no 
objection to Perry Greene being present, but to keep the rest of 
the folks back. 

Sth Q.— Did you reply to him, when he said that he wanted 
to make a .statement ? 

!Sth A. — I won't say positively; but I might have said that 
it was the right thing for him to do or something like that ; I 
might have said, I won't be positive about that. 

9th Q — How long after you might have said it was the 
right thing to do, was this statement made? 

0th A. — It was probably not more than a minute after Mr. 
Greene stepped over the bars, until he commenced. 

10th Q. — You were called first by Mr. Shamblen, and he 
related to you that Mr. Morgan wanted to make a statement? 

10th A.— Yes, sir. 

11th Q. — And possibly you said it was the right thing to do? 

11th A. — Yes, sir, I think I said something like that. 

Re-Direct Examination. 

12th Q. — When Mr. Shamblen said that Morgan wanted to 
make a statement, he did not say what he intended to state, 
did he? 


12th A. — He simply said he was going to make a statement. 

(Objection by counsel for defendant to that affidavit or paper 
with alleged statement, the Court holds that the statement made 
to Mr. Brown shall go to the jury, but, that the statement made 
to Mr. Shamblen may be excluded from the jury.) 

At this point the Prosecuting Attorney asks that the hatchet, 
mattock and missiles be offered in evidence. Objection by coun- 
sel for defendant. Court asks if they were found close to the scene 
of the murder; is answered in the affirmative by Prosecuting 
Attorney. Court over-rules the objection made by counsel for 

Mr. E. L. Rudman recalled by the State, says : 

1st Q. — If you have refreshed j'our mind in reference to any 
other conversation, had when you and Mr. Brown went there in 
relation to the statement before it was, or that the defendant said, 
that you have not stated before? 

1st A. — As I sat down on the log probably two and one-half 
or three feet from Morgan, and was opening up the valise I had 
to get some paper, there was some six or eight men came up to 
the bars, then commenced talking in a low tone of voice, and I 
motioned behind me for them to keep still and keep back ; Mr. 
Sliinn and Shamblen went to make them keep back, and Mr. 
Morgan says : " I want to make a full statement of this affair, I 
want to tell all about it." I kept mj' eyes on him, for I was a 
little afraid he might draw back and hit me with his hand-cuffs. 
Mr. Shinn and Shamblen were not present at that time. 

6th Q.— By the Court : State if Mr. Shinn or Shamblen were 
present while this statement in writing, as detailed, was made ? 

6th A. — Yes, part of the time one or the other was present, 
either of them was present all the time, but part of the time one 
or the other was present. 



Miss Alice Pfost, being duly sworu in behalf of the State, 
says : 

1st Q. — As distinctly as you can, give jour name? 

1st A.— Alice Pfost. 

2d Q. — Where have you resided ? 

2d A.— On Grass Lick. 

8d Q.— With whom ? 

3d A. — My mother, .sister and half brother. 

4th Q. — Will you please give the name of your mother? 

4th A.— Chloe Greene. 

oth Q. — Grass Lick is in this County ? 

oth A. — Yes, sir. 

(Ith Q. — Are you and have you been for some time acquainted 
with John Morgan? 

6th A. — Yes, sir, for about five years and over, he stayed 
with us for over five years. 

7th Q. — When did you last see John Morgan ? 

7th A. — Wednesday morning, of course. 

8th Q. — He stayed at your house on Tue.sda)- night ? 

Sih A. — Yes. sir. 

9th O. — Could 5'ou state to the jury in your own, as short a 
way as you desire, what took place there on Wednesday morn- 
ing? Take your time and nerve yourself and saj' to the jury just 
what took place ? 

Oth A. — On Wednesday morning, we got up a little before 
5 o'clock ; my brother and John Morgan got up a while after we 
all got up, and he followed my poor little brother out to the hog- 
pen to feed the hogs and murdered him, I know he did, for he 
never came back, and John Morgan came back, went in, and 
talked to mother and us awhile, and when my sister and me went to 
get breakfast he followed us out into the kitchen and stood around 
out there, and as my sister was making bread for breakfast he struck 



her, and as I looked around, he tried to murder me, and he run 
after my sister and struck her again, and I had strength enough 
to get up and run to Mr. Chancey's for help. 

10th Q. — Where was your mother ? 

10th A. — She was back -n the bed-room when I left, making 
up her bed. 

11th Q.- He had not reached her then? 

11th A. — No, sir, but I looked back and saw him going to 
the bed-room door to where she was. 

12th Q. — Could you see whether he had anything in his 
hands when he come in there? 

12th A. — I could not say, it was just after I was struck. 

13th Q. — What did he have in his hands in the kitchen 
when he struck your sister and you ? 

13th A. — I did not see that he had anything in his hands, I 
just thought that he struck her with his hand. 

14th Q. — Did you say he did not strike her but once until 
he hit you ? 

14th A. — He was standing at my back and rushed to my 
side when he struck my sister, then I turned my head and 
screamed and started to run, then he struck me. 

15th Q — Did you say you went to John Chancey's? 

15th A.— Yes, sir. 

16th Q. — And informed him of what had happened? 

16th A. — Yes, sir. 

17th Q. — A few minutes before you went for Mr. Chancey, 
your mother was at home and in the room alive and well, in this 
County ? 

17th A.— Yes, sir. 

18th Q. — After you left the house and before you reached 
Mr. Chancey's, did you hear your mother's voice in any outcry ? 

18th A. — Yes, sir, I heard them both screaming, my sister 
called for me, and says : " Alice do come back, and try to get 


the gun and help us." I knew where the gun was and that I could 
not reach her, and I did not go back. 

19th Q — Had there been any trouble between your mother 
and him, or your folks and him that morning? 

19th A.— No, sir, he never spoke a cross word to any of us, 
nor said a word when he was trying to kill us. 

20th Q. — Had there been any trouble or cross words on the 
evening before? 

20th A.— No, sir. 

21st Q. — How did he come to stay at your house that night ; 
he lives a short distance from there, does he not ? 

21st A. — He lives hardly two miles; he came down there in 
the evening and asked mother for a coat pattern for a child of 
Mrs. Parsons ; she told him she had none, and he sat around and 
talked and then he finally asked my sister if she would shingle 
his hair that night, and she told him no, sir, she would not, ard 
then he asked her if he staid all night would she cut it in the 
morning, she told him she reckoned she could, and he talked on 
friendly and finally went to sleep in the same room with my 

22d Q. — Have you been to your home since this occurred ' 

22d A.— No, sir. 

28d Q. — When you started out of the that morning 
was there any person there but Morgan, your sister and Mother ? 

23d A. —No, sir, no one at all. 

24th Q. — What did you hear before you got to the house of 
John Chancey ; any noise of any kind in the house? 

24th A. — Nothing but the screams of my mother and sister. 

25th Q. — Did any one else stay there that night except 
Morgan and your family ? 

25th A.— No, sir. 

2(3th Q. — Did you see any one else except Morgan and _\our 
family after you got up that morning? 

26th A. — No, sir, I did not see any one else. 

State here rests its case. 




At the same time and place, witnesses for the defendant being 
called and duly sworn, Mrs. John Morgan being called first, says: 

1st Q. — What is your name? 

1st A. — Rebecca C. Morgan. 

-d Q. — Where do you live ? 

2d A. — That is no fair question ; I am so tore up I don't 
know where I live : lived on Grass Lick. 

3d Q. — Are you the wife of John Morgan ? 

3d A. — Yes, sir: I am. 

4th Q. — How long have you been married? 

4th A. — Two years the 27th of last February. 

•3th y. — Were you at home on the night of the morning of 
November 3d, this year? 

5th A.— Yes, sir; I was at home. 

6th Q. — Was your husband at home that night ? 

tith A. — No ; he was not at home. 

7th O. — If he returned next morning, state at what time? 

7th A. — He came just about the break of da}'. 

8th Q. — Had you got up then ? 

8th A. — Yes ; I was up when he came. 

9th Q. — Tell the Court what he did after he came home? 

l*th A. — Well ; he came home and wandered around through 
the house and never noticed me nor the baby, walked in the 
room where his gun was, took his gun down and went out of the 
house ; started up the road towards Mr. Fisher's, I followed him 
and called him and still he made no answer^ I still followed him 
on up there and called for some of the men folks to assist me to 
do something with him, for there was something wrong. I did 


not know what it was, there was none of them there ; by that 
time he came to the corn shock, out in the garden, he throwed his 
gun down on the ground, began tearing the com shock to pieces, 
jerked some corn off and started with it in his hand and said Mr. 
Fisher had told him to feed his hogs that morning, that he was 
going to do it ; I took my baby to the house and gave it to Mrs. 
Fisher to keep it from getting cold ; she told me to try to get his 
gun away from him. I went to him and asked for the gun, and 
he struck at me three times with the gun, and then I give back 
and he throwed the gun, I don't know if he intended to hit me 
with it or not, but it fell and la}' right at my feet ; from that he 
went on with the corn he had in his hand, towards Mr. Fisher's 
hog-pen up the road ; I don't know whether he went to the hog- 
pen or not, but he went off up through the field against the hill 
where there was a plank fence across the field ; he went to that 
fence and began tearing off the plank, and throwed them on the 
ground ; he left there and went across to another fence, went a 
few steps to the fence and turned and came back down to Mr. 
Fisher's ; I do not know what he done then after that. 

10th Q. — Had you before that observed anything peculiar 
about his disposition ; please relate it to the Court and jury ? 

10th A. — Well, I suppose all the people remeinbers the re- 
union on Bare Fork, he and I went to that, we went up to his 
brother-in-law's to stay all night, and in the night he wakened me, 
when the baby commenced to fuss and I commenced to try to do 
something, he commenced to try to get up in his sleep and I com- 
menced to try to waken him ; I called to his sister and she tried 
to waken him up, and we could not get him awake and he finally 
jumped up and run out of doors, running up against a hillside 
and acted very strange ; his brother-in-law went out to bring him 
back ; he could not get him back, and by that time I went to 
him the fourth time ; I don't just remember how manj^ times he 
pushed me away from him ; we took hold of him and shook him, 
talked to him, he did not push me away from him no more, when 


we started back to the house we thought we had got him awake 
until we were standing by the fire talking, we thought he was 
awake when, all at once he whirled around and went and got in 
bed, and never said nothing more to us, I knew then he was still 
wrong some way. I supposed he was still asleep, I called to him 
and worked with him until I got him awakened up and he said 
he did not know anything about what he had done, that he had 
been dreaming of running a foot race with a man I don't suppose 
ever lived ; I think he said the man's name was Lathey, that is 
all I know : that was on the night of the last day of the reunion 
of Bare Fork, this fall. 

11th Q. — Was it the last night of September or October i" 
11th A. — I really can't say ; I am so mixed up. 
12th Q. — Before the od of November, and since the reunion, 
have you noticed anything peculiar about him either in the night- 
time or day ? 

12th A. — He had strange flighty spells in his sleep from then 
on, he had had them before ; that was not the first time he got up 
in his .sleep, he had strange spells in the day time, that he would 
seem unconcerned about everything about home, then sometimes 
he would appear as liveh' and natural as he ever did. 

13th Q. — Was there any time, except at your brother-in-law's, 
that he got up and went out at night? 

13th A. — Yes, sir ; he got up and went out at home twice, 
and he went out one night when he went to set up with a sick 
child of Mr. Wash. Games. He said, when he lay down, it was 
about 11 o'clock, if we needed him, he could be called; that he 
wanted to get some rest, he was working in the harvest field and 
needed some rest ; little after 11 o'clock he got up and called his 
horse; he got out of bed and spoke to it, as if he had 
caught him. He got up, too, and went out in the yard there 
at Mr. Games' ; he stumbled over something in the yard ; it was 
raining very hard too, and falling down and rain together, 
awakened him and he came back into the He told me of 


another time that he was not at home. I don't just remember 
where I was; that he got up in his sleep, got his gun and went 
out on the porch and shot it off, and that the noise wakened him 
up and went back in the house. 

14th Q. — Was there anj^ diflference in his disposition when 
he would be about the house after — within the last six months 
has disposition changed ? 

14th A. — He has changed a great deal within the last six 

15th Q. — How long since you observ-ed this peculiarity about 
him, if any? 

15th A. — I noticed something wrong with him this spring, 
late in the spring ; along about the middle of the summer he just 
become unconcerned about home ; by spells he seemed to he con- 
cerned about the place, and other times his mind was away on 
something else; sometimes he would appear as lively and jovial 
as ever ; other times he was unconcerned, paid no attention much 
to anything. I had mentioned it at different times to some of 
my neighbors, and I wondered what was wrong, and I asked 
some of them what they thought was wrong with him. The}- 
told me they thought there must be .something wrong, and tha-t I 
ought to have something done for him, I tried to get him to see 
a physician, but he would not do so. I have persuaded him at 
different times to have something done. 

H>th Q. — I believe j'ou stated that he returned home be- 
fore daylight ? 

16th A— Yes, sir. 

17th Q. — How long did he remain there ? 

17tli A. — That is something I could not tell you, but only a 
few minutec. 

18th Q. — Did I understand you to say that he tore down a 
.shock of corn down in the field? 

18th A.— Yes, sir. 



19th Q. — During this time 5'ou were with him, was he doing 
much talking? 

19th A. — He never spoke to me. 

20th Q. — How far did you follow until he spoke the first 
time, if he did speak ? 

20tli A. — At the corn shock, he said he was going to feed 
Henry Fisher's hogs. 

21st Q. — How close was you to him then ? Q. — Some four or five steps. 

22d Q. — Was this before he threw his gun at you or after- 

22d A. — It was before. I had taken my baby to the house 
of Mrs. Fi.sher, and she told me to follow "him and get the gun 
away from him; he struck at me with the gun three times; it 
was after this that he tore the fence down. 

2'3d Q — How long was it until he left that place and went to 
where he tore the fence down ? 

2-)d A. — I don't know the time ; it was about forty steps or 
more ; it was partly level and partly up hill. 

24th Q. — How far were you from him when he tore the 
fence down ? 

24th A. — I was at Mrs. Fisher's house, it was quite a little 
distance. He made some kind of a noise, I don't know how he 

2oth Q — On the night at j-our brothers-in-law. after he got 
out of the house, did he make any noise ? 

2oth A. — Yes, sir, he screamed just wild and wicked; he 
hallooed several times, then he started and commenced singing 
or humming to himself low, thefi he next whistled. 

26th Q. — Did he tell you on the evening of the 2d where he 
was going ? 

26th A. — He told me that he was going over to Doug. 
Shinn's on business ; he told me he would be back by 9 o'clock ; 
he said he would not be gone over three hours, or about 9 o'clock. 


27th O — Did you say anything to him that morning after 
he returned home and before he left ? 

27th A. — Yes, sir, I could not say how many times. I got 
no response whatever from him. 

Cross Examination. 

2Sth Q. — What time did he leave that evening? 

2Hth A. — I don't know just the time that he did leave, but I 
don't think it was quite dusk, he just got up from his supper 
and started ; he had been husking corn tliat day, and eat his sup- 
per at home. I did not notice which way he started when he 
went out ; I had my bab}^ to feed and was not through my sup- 
per yet. I wanted him to go on horseback as it was late, but lie 
.said he could walk across the hill by Henry Winters'. Henry 
Winters lives between where Mrs. Greene and us lived ; when 
he went to Henry Winters' he was going in the direction of Mrs. 
Cireene's part of the way ; then he would turn off to the right 
and go a hill to Doug. Shinn's. 

21>th O. — That would have been before he got to Henry 
Winters', would it not? 

20th A.— Yes, sir. 

•>Oth Q — Did he inform you on what business he was going 
to Shinn's on ? 

30th A. — No, sir, he did not mention any business he wa.s 
going to .see Mr. Shinn about. 

31st Q. — By the way of refreshing your recollection, did he 
.sa}' an^'thing about going to borrow some mone}* of Shinn ? 

31st A. — I don't remember that he did. 

32d Q. — During times you speak about his absent- 
mindedness, was he frquently away from home? 

32d A. — Sometimes he was away from home, I don't know 
that he was ever absent only when he was on business, or attend- 
ing to business ; he attended to whatever business he had and 

33d Q. — Was he frequently away at night ? 


33d A. — Not very much at night, only when he was away 
and could not get home. He worked in the day time and rested 
at night. 

34th Q. — Did he frequently work away from home? 

34th A. — Yes, sir. He has worked away frc)m home since 
last March. 

35th Q. — When he went away from home where he had 
business, he would transact his business and come back home 
again ? 

3.)th A. — I suppose that was the way it was, I sometimes 
did not know what business he had at all. 

30th Q. — He never told you his business? 

3(ith A. — No, sir, he seemed to want to be rambling all the 
time, and, at that time, his mind seemed to be unsettled. 

oTth Q. — Tell us what he did when jou got him awake that 
night that you had such a hard time wakening him? 

37th A. — I never got him wakened up at all ; he come in the 
house, went to the fire-place, and set there and talked several 
words and we had concluded he was awake, and the first thing I 
knew he whirred around and went and laid down on the bed 
again, I knew then he was not at him.self, I went to him and 
never left him until I wakened him up. 

3Hth Q. — Was that the occasion that he spoke to you about 
dreaming of running the foot race? 

3Hth A.— Yes, sir. 

Re-Direct Examination. 

39th O. — For the last two or three months past he has been 
working away from home pretty much all the time? 

39th A.— Yes, sir. 

40th Q. — Since that time that he went to the Reunion has 
he staid away from home several nights? 

40th A. — No, sir, I could not say as to that. 



Mr. Casto, second witness for the defendant, being duly 
sworn, says : 

1st Q. — If you are any relation to the defendant, please relate 
to the Court what it is ? 

1st A. — He is a brother-in-law. 

2d Q. — Where do you live? 

2d A. — Jackson County on the Bare Fork. 

od Q. — Do you remember the occasion spoken of by the de- 
fendant's wife of him being at your house on the last night of 
the Reunion ? 

3d A. — Yes, sir. 

4th Q.— When was that ? 

4th A. — About the 30th of September. 

oth Q. — If there was any peculiar action out of the de- 
fendant during the night they were there, I wish you would tell 
the Court and jury about it. 

5th A. — Well, the first I knew about anything being wrong, 
he was gone over the foot of the bed ; he lit out and run out 
doors and was gone, he hollered very viciously, and when I got 
out he was standing by the house some ten feet away. I -followed 
right along and got hold of his left arm, then he turned and 
struck at me three licks, and then I went back to the house and 
dressed ; I was in my night clothes ; then Mrs. Morgan and I 
both went after him ; he was in the brush ; he seemed to object 
to her taking hold of him, but we got him back to the house and 
we went to the fire and stood there and talked a few words, and he 
whirred around and got right into bed ; she went to him and 
talked to him and shook him until she got him awake and he 
got up and come to the fire again. 

6th Q. — Is that all that you know of any peculiar action ? 

6th A. — That is all I seen out of him. 

04 THE pfost-grp:ene tragedy. 

7th Q. — Have you ever seen him since the Reunion ? 
7th A. — Never seen since until I saw him here. 

Cross Examination. 

8th Q. — How long did they visit at your house, Mr. Casto? 

(Sth A. — They came in the evening about 12 o'clock and 
staid until the next evening. 

9th O. — Did you notice anything unusual all the time he 
was there?* 

9th A. — No, sir. He was just as natural in his conversation 
as ever, I just suppo.sed he had been asleep and was dreaming that 
night, he told me he had been dreaming of running a foot race. 

Defendant here rests. 


J. I). BRADLKV. Foreman of the Jury that convicted Morg^an. 


The Prosecuting Attorney made the opening statement to 
the jury, which was of fifteen minutes duration, followed by Mr. D. 
A. Brown in a speech of thirty minutes in length, finishing up b\- 
the Prosecuting Attorney, in a neat little sixteen minute speech. 
Closing at 4:23 p. m. 

Instructions bv the Court to the Jury. 

" If the jury, in passing upon this offense, find that -the de- 
fendant is guilty of either one of these two offenses, they will say 
the defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree or murder in 
the second degree. Murder in the first degree is punishable by 
death or punishable by confinement in the penitentiary for life, 
and you will find whether he shall be confined in the penitentiary 
for life, and if you so find, you will so state in your verdict." 

The jury was then taken to their room, and in one hour 
returned the following verdict : 

" We, the jury, find the defendant guilty of murder in the 
first degree, as charged in the within indictment." 

Signed, J. D. Bradley', Foreman. 


The jury was then discharged and court adjourned until Sat- 
urday Morning, November 6, 1897. 

Saturday A. m., November 6, 1897, the prisoner, J. F. Morgan, 
is brought into the court room, and the court asks him : " Mr. 
Morgan have you anything further to say why sentence of death 
shall not be passed upon you?" To which the prisoner replied in 
a nervous manner: "Why, I have lots I would like to have 
stated." To which the court says: "That the court will hear 
any statement that j^ou may desire to make." The prisoner 
proceeding, said : 


" I am not the man that did the crime ; I know this about it 
that death will be m}' portion, I suppose, but I hain't the man 
that done the murder ; just give me a little time, and I will tell 
you all about it. Some of the people tells me I signed a paper ; 
I might have done it, although I might have done it, I don't dis- 
pute that, but if I did, I have no recollection of it. 

Where is that man Floyd Pfost at — you know when he was 
out at home on a visit, very likely some of you know when he 
and his wife were out there on a visit, there was a man living 
there on their place got into a little dispute about the crop ; he 
thought that he did not get such ground as he ought to have ; he 
had taken a lease ; he did not get to sow wheat on the corn 
ground as he wanted to ; he said he did not expect it to do another 
man any good, if he could not get it to use. He come to me four 
times to get me to help destroy this family ; I told him I would 
not do it ; I would just as soon think of destroying my mother, if 
.she were living, and my own sisters as to molest that family of 
people ; I told him that I would not do it ; he come to me the 
evening that Mr. Pfost made his return back to Ripley, and he 
says, "now is the chance to make the drive," and he says, "now 
is the time to do the work ; " I says, " I am not going to do any 
.such a thing ; " nor I did not ; and he says, " we can work on 


them so nice, they have got a gun down there ; we can get them 
out by saying we will go to shoot squirrels ; get Floyd and Jim 
out," and I told him I would not do it, and he stayed and still kept 
begging me ; and I told him " I would not hurt that old lady to 
the very last, and I did not." 

I seen a man a minute ago that lives right close there ; right 
below Mrs. Greene's, it was John Chaucey, [calls to John 
Chancey to step farward] " Tell the Court ? did not Ben Ander- 
son go there on that day with a gun, that I was fixing the 
fence " — [Court instructs the prisoner to make his statement to 
the Court.] " Well, any way, Flo^-d Pfost and his wife returned 
back home and he said to me that day at the fence: " why, pshaw, 
I did not think they would make their return until to- 
morrow ; " he stood there kind of dejected and started off talking 
and said: "Be'ans Floj'dhas gone I will go back home," he picked 
up his gun and started up through the field. I was there at work 
for Mrs. Greene that daj' that he come down there with his gun. 
I was there fixing the j'ard fence for her and he made his return 
back home and he come to me once after. He wanted to know 
of me, if I would not go with him and help do the work, and I 
held out and told him that I would not, and I did not. I say it 
was an evident fact that I was there that night, but I did not kill 
no one. What I done, gentlemen, I am not ashamed of. What I 
done, I done to get out, and I did not hurt no one, the only one 
that was hurt the worst by me, was the one that is living to-day ; 
the one they called Alice. She was the only one I hurt, and I 
did not not do that intentionally, and did not do it with any 
intent whatever of destroying or killing the famil)-. What I 
did, I did to get out of the way ; we had all been in a friendlj- 
good humor, and had treated each other right. I had staid there 
with them some five years, five months to fifteen days, and many 
a thing was done for me in the way of life's comfort and many's 
the thing I have done for them. Gentlemen, I am not guilty of this 
crime ; the people suspisioned something in some way, that I 


was connected in this thing. It is a true and evident fact that 
Jimmy and me got up that morning between 4 o'clock and day- 
light : we were sitting around there talking some, and after while 
they got up and lighted a fire and Jimmy and I started out to the 
stable ; when we got nearly out to the bars we heard a strange 
noise, still we never thought anything about it ; it might have 
been a dog jumped over the bars, and he went on to the stable 
and I made ni}'^ return to the house, and the girls got up and I 
washed my face and hands. When I left there, there was five 
months and fifteen days' of my time thai I never received a 
cent for but a pair of breeches and pair of boots for, and I went 
in, was talking to them about it. I asked them if they did not 
realy think that they ought to allow me something more than 
that for my work ; that is all I said to them ; they did not seem 
to like it very well, but everything went along all right. I had 
dropped a pencil out of my pocket in the kitchen and I went in 
there to .see if I could find it. I could not find it and I picked 
up the lamp to see if I could find it off the table. I did not find 
my pencil, and I said it was only a piece of a pencil, let it go, it 
did not amount to much, and I seen things were not working 
right. I did not know hardly what to think of it ; seen the girls 
had peculiar actions. I did not know what to think of it ; one of 
them started into the house and she threw the hatchet at me as I 
went through into the house and it struck some place about 
the door facing. I went into the room there ; was standing by 
the door; the door was right over this way and the gun set in the 
corner this wa)-, that I aimed to get into. I got into the room 
and could not get out. 

The old lady come at me with a club and another girl with 
the gun and I says to them : " Do not hurt no one, and no one is 
going to hurt you ;" the girl that got the gun, could not get it to 
work, so she just struck at me with it, and I throwed up my 
hand that way, to dodge the lick and kind of glanced it off, and I 
had the hatchet in my hand that fell over on her head as I 


knocked the lick off. Mrs. Greene was standing in the door with 
a club ; that old lady — that mother that had protected me in many 
a thing — she struck at me with a club. I did not hit that poor 
old woman with a purpose of destroying her, but just hit enough 
merely to get out of the way. I don't know which one it was 
that struck at me with the gun, I just aimed to make my escape 
and get out of the way. As I went out of there, here is this man 
that I was telling you about coming, the man that I know, I 
seen this man strike this poor old woman, as he struck her again 
and she begin staggering. There was a big light in the house ; 
I could see this man very plainly; he stood with his axe raised 
and I seen him hit this poor old woman, knock her down, and hit 
her after she was down. It is an evident fact, of course, that the 
people will, of course, destroy my life. I am satisfied of it ; but 
yet, reflect for a moment over the thing, and think that I have to 
give up my life for something I did not do myself. I did not kill 
no one, yet I have to die for it. The man that committed the 
crime, done the murdering, is allowed to be free among the people. 
This is right. That is all I have to say to these people here ; it 
is all I am going to saj'. What I have told the people here is the 
truth. God being ray helper. I prayed to God this morning, and 
all night, that he might give me strength and quiet my nerves 
that I might be able to come up here and tell the truth about this 
matter, and that I did not do this crime." 


The Court desires to say to you that 3'ou may make any 
further statement, or if you desire to restate what you have 
already stated, you will have time to do so hereafter. There is 
nothing that lasts, nothing that is enduring and permanent ex- 
cept truth ; there is nothing that will live after 30U, or live after 
all of us, except the truth ; it is impossible for a falsehood to live 
long. And the Court desires to impress upon you the necessity 
of telling only the truth in view of certain and almost immediate 


death, and your welfare hereafter. It would be as much as you 
can do to atone for the wrong which the Court is satisfied you 
have committed. You may give an entire statement of the facts, 
but nothing which you can .'>ay will extenuate your guilt or re- 
lease you from the sentence that is to be passed upon j'ou. Be- 
tween you and your God, however, there: is a statement you can 
make, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 
The jury in this, Mr. Morgan, has performed its duty; it is 
done within the bounds of the law, and now it becomes, under the 
law, the duty of this Court to pass the sentence of death upon 
you. The Court approaches this task as reverentially to God, in 
a different spirit from which you pa.ssed the sentence of death 
upon helpless victims, for whose murder you are now con- 
victed. The Court approaches it with all pit}', with all possible 
mercy. Tlie Court has no eyes to .see, no tongue to speak, no 
heart to feel, but that is given him by the law and is rever- 
ential to God in this very trying ordeal ; that it is so, you have 
had a fair, full and impartial trial, the coun.sel of your own selec- 
tion has been a.ssigned }ou by the Court, who has di.scharged his 
dut)' to the last degree, so far as your interests are concerned, in 
the best manner possible. The public will not, and certainly do 
not, look upon the counsel which the Court assigned, and who only 
acted the Court asked him to do so, with no disrespect. 

It is right under the law for all persons to have a full, fair 
and impartial trial, assisted by counsel. It was, indeed, a cour- 
ageous act on the part of counsel. The Court a.ssumes that the 
coun.sel acted courteously and done the best that could be done 
for you. 

In this moment you should be very grateful to that wife, 
who has clung to you, stayed by you through this trying ordeal ; 
it would not have required more courage for that woman to have 
faced a lion's den than to have faced the public feeling caused in 
this matter; she has honorably done so, and it is one more 
monument to the character of noble womanhood ; granted that 


this woman has done so, it only renews in the bosom of this 
Court the feeling that if the mother of our Saviour had not been 
a woman, his blood, perhaps, would not have been sufficient to 
extenuate the sins of the world. The Court cannot pardon you 
any more than under the law; if he could, he doubts whether it 
would be to your advantage to be acquitted of a crime of this 
kind ; it certainly would be doing the public a great wrong to 
turn 3-0U loose upon this community with all the savager> you 
have shown yourself to be possessed of. Other crimes would l)e 
committed ; it would again follow that others would share the 
same fate as these helpless victims. The Court does not desire 
to talk longer upon this subject. The sentence of this Court is : 
" That you shall be confined in the county jail of this county 
until the IGth day of the coming December, 1807, and on that 
day and on that date that you be taken from the county" jail of 
this county by the Sheriff of this county, and hanged by the 
neck until you are dead, dead, dead; and may God have mercy 
upon your soul." " Return the prisoner to the jail." 



The surviving meniber of the family. Miss Alice Pfost, made 
the- following sworn statement in writing before Coroner D. A. 
Brown, which best tells of the dreadful aflfair: 

" I am Alice Pfost, the daughter of Mrs. Chloe Greene, who, 

as I am informed, lies a corpse at her residence. One John Mor- 

i^an came to our house about G o'clock last evening. He came 

in and talked as usual. He had lived at our house for over five 

\ ears. He claimed to mother that he came after a coat pattern 

for Ofa Parsons, who was living at his (Morgan's) house. He 

talked on awhile and requested my .sister Matilda to shingle his 

hair. My sister refused to cut his hair after night. He (Morgan) 

then wanted to know that if he .stayed all night w hether .she would 

cut his hair the next morning. She told him she reckoned she 

could. We all went to bed (juietly. He (Morgan) and my 

brother Jimmy (ireene got up as usual. He (Morgan) talked 

just as friendly and sensible as he ever was. My brother went to 

feed the hogs and Morgan with him. Then Morgan came back 

in the and Jimmy was not with him. Then ma remarked, 

'■ It is curious that Jimmy has not returned to the house." Tillie 

and I talked about my brother not coming to the house. Tillie 

and I went into the kitchen to get breakfast, and Morgan was 

out in the other room with ma. Then Morgan walked out of the 

house three times and back. Morgan came back the last time 

and .said to m> sister that he heard Jimmy whistling down in the 

field. I went out and listened, but I could not hear him. Then 

Morgan came in the kitchen where Tillie and I were getting 

breakfast. He stood around in there, which was unusual for him. 

My sister and I took the lamp out to the milk house to get 

milk to make bread with. Morgan remained in the kitchen and 

was there when we returned. I went to mixing the bread on my 

return and Morgan went to the porch and whistled once. My 

sister was at the stove in the kitchen. As she turned to pass 

THE i>kost-c;reene tragedy. 73 

between me and Morgan, Morgan struck her and she staggered 
back and said, "Oh, John, don't kill me. She staggered back and 
caught the table, then Morgan struck her again. Before Morgan 
struck my sister the first blow he was standing by the wood box, 
and there was a hatchet in the box. 

After the second blow my sister ran out on the porch. Then 
Morgan struck me on the head. I fell back by the table. At 
this time my sister on the porch was screaming for help. Then 
Morgan jumped to the door to either lock the door or to keep mj- 
sister from coming back in. I rose up and ran out through the 
clo.set into the sitting room and out at that door. As I passed 
through the sitting room door I saw Morgan coming through the 
closet. My mother was back in the bed room. I went out. I 
was afraid ;hat some one else might come, for the reason that 
Morgan went out on the porch before that and whistled. Then I 
sat down behind a pile of boards out of sight of Morgan. Then 
I was .so afraid that I went into one corner of the chicken 
While I was in Ihere the thought came to me that I had better 
go for help. 

We had suspi.sioned Morgan before. He came to our house on 
last Friday morning about 1 o'clock and awoke my brother Jimmy 
and said to him that he had two coons treed and wanted my 
brother to go with his gun and shoot them. He got my brother 
up and he went out with Morgan. He asked my brother as they 
passed the stable whether my ma had received fifty dollars that 
.she was to get for a colt. Jimmy told him she had not. Then 
Morgan asked him if he knew when the note was due. Morgan 
and my brother only went as far as the haj' stacks and Morgan 
said they would go no further. This was told me by my brother 
Jimmy, who they say now lies dead at the hog-pen. I left the 
house and came to Mr. John Chancey's. When I got to the bars 
I heard my sister scream for me to come back and get the gun. 
After I got on further I heard my mother and sister both scream. 
I came right on to Mr. Chancey's. Alice Pfost. 



HON RIJ'.SK r.I.IZZAKl), J lui-e of the Circuit Court. 

Hon. Blizzard. Judge of the >Sixth Judicial Circuit of Virginia, who presided at the trial of John F. Morgan, is 
a gentleman of fine legal and literary attainments. Born in 
Nicholas Count)', West Virginia, thirty-three years ago, he at- 
tended the public schools and then entered the State Normal 
School, in which institution he made a high and honorable record. 
After graduation, he engaged in the study of law and was ad- 
mitted to the bar at Glenville, Gilmer County, West Virginia, in 
1886. Later he located at Grantsville in the adjoining county of 
Calhoun, where he speedily took front rank in his profession. 
His ability as a practitioner and his profound knowledge of the 
law brought him into prominence, and having received the 
nomination of his party for the office of Judge of the Circuit 
Court, he was elected to that position on the 3d day of Novem- 
ber, 1897, carrying his own county by seven hundred and forty- 
two votes, in the face of the fact that in the said county there 


was a majority of nearly one thousand votes against the ticket on 
which he was a candidate. 

In pronouncing the death sentence upon John F. Morgan, 
Judge Blizzard for the first time discharged this painful task; but 
he approached it with determination to do, faithfully, his whole 
duty. His statement to the prisoner Will be found elsewhere in 
the proceedings of the Court. 

Judge Blizzard is the youngest Circuit Judge in the State. 
He has already shown that ability is not conditional upon age 
alone ; he has entered upon a career which is not yet completed— 
a career which in the end will prove alike honorable to himself 
and the State. 

HON'. JAMKS A. SH.\MAN, Prosecuting^ Attorney of Jackson Coiinly. 

Hon. James A. Seaman, who as Prosecuting Attorney for 
Jackson County, represented the State at the trial of John F. Mor- 
gan, and thus was instrumental in .securing the conviction ot him 
whose butchery of the Pfost family stands without a parallel in 
the criminal history of the State, was born in July, 1844, at West 
Columbia, Mason County. Virginia — now West Virginia — where 
his parents were prominent factors in developing the social life 
of that county. Mr. Seaman has been a student all his life, and 
in addition to being remarkably well read is schooled in a 
knowledge of men — the highest type of education. Ready de- 
bating, logical speaking and clear thinking, are among the ele- 


ments which have enabled him to rise to a most honorable posi- 
tion in his profession — that of law, in the practice of which he 
engaged in 1876, he having been admitted to the bar at Ripley 
in that year. 

He is an earnest, diligent lawyer, is able at the bar and 
stands very high in his profession. He was elected Prosecuting 
Attorney of Jackson County in 1888, defeating for that office one 
of the most popular lawyers of the State by a large majority. In 
189U, his part}' again nominated him for the same office without 
opposition, in the election which followed, he defeated his oppo- 
nent who was running for re-election, and was thus chosen to fill 
the office he now holds. In every walk in life he has made an 
honorable record, and thus enjoys the confidence and approbation 
of the people among whom he lives. 

HON. DAVID A. HROWN, Counsel for the Defendant. 

Hon. David A. Brown, whom the Court appointed to defend 
John F. Morgan, is one of the prominent members of the Jackson 
County bar. Born on the 24th day of July, 1854, his life has 
been an exemplification of what an American boy of pluck can 
do, when he so wills. Mr. Brown was married on the 15th day 
of April, 1877, and alone, and unaided, he purchased a farm of 
fifty-four acres, which he began to improve, and at the same time 
he engaged in the study of law at his country home. His prog- 
ress was rapid. Removed to Spencer, the seat of justice of 
Roane County, where in March, 1879, he was admitted to the 
bar, and in October, 1880, was elected Prosecuting Attorney for 


the county. In this capacit}^ he served the full term of four 
years, acquitting himself most honorably in the discharge of his 
duties. From Spencer, he removed to Ripley, in February, 
1891, and in November, 1892, he was elected Prosecuting 
Attorney of Jackson County, where his official duties were di.s- 
charged as faithfully as they had been in Roane County, and this 
means that they were performed in a manner entirely satis- 
factory to the people. In addition to other duties, Mr. Brown 
has filled the position of United States Commisioner for five 
years, and that he still continues to discharge the duties of this 
position, may be taken as evidence that the government is satis- 
fied with the manner in which he does this. 

MR. J. O. SHINN, High Sheriff of Jackson County. 

Mr. J. O. Shinn, the High Sheriff of Jackson County, who 
has had charge of John F. Morgan, ever since the hour of his 
arrest, is a gentleman of excellent business qualifications and 
sterling character. He is a representative of one of the oldest 
and most influential families of the State. His remote ancestors 
were .settlers in the valley of the South Branch of the Potomac, 


before the Revolutionary War, and as early as 1 785 some of the 
families found homes on the West Fork of the Monongahela 
River, where the town of Shinnston, Harrison County, now 
stands. From here and the South Branch River came the repre- 
sentatives of the family who found homes in Jackson and adjoin- 
ing counties. 

His father, Hon. George W. Shinn, now deceased, served the 
people as a public officer for a period of sixteen years. J. O. 
Shinn was first spoken of for Sheriff in 1892, but was defeated 
for the nomination by a very small majority, he having carried 
his own and other districts almost to a man. In 1896, the tide 
had grown so strong in his favor for that office, that no one would 
oppose him for the nomination by his party, although many 
others were very anxious to fill this most important office. He 
has discharged his duties to the entire .satisfaction of the people 
whom he serves. Mr. Shinn was born in. 1859, and is, therefore, 
now thirty -seven years of age. 



MR. JOliX M. DAKKR. Assistant Prosecutius Attorney of Jackson County. 

Mr. John M. Baker, who as Assistant Prosecu-tiiig Attorney of 
Jackson County, drew up the indictment upon which John F. 
Morgan was arranged and convicted, is a representative of that 
large class of young men in West Virginia, to-daj', who, before 
beginning the work of life, make the necessary preparation to 
enable them to accomplish it successfully. Mr. Baker was born 
near Ripley, Jackson County, in 1872, and is therefore twenty- 
five 5'ears of age. He made the necessar}- preparation in the 
Public Schools and then entered the State Normal School at 
Fairmount, and thereafter became a student in the West Virginia 
University, from the Law Department of which he was graduated 
in 1896, and in August of the same year was admitted to the bar. 



On the second day of December, Morgan completed a confes- 
sion, for which Okey J. Morrison agreed to pay to his wife, the 
sum of twenty-five dollars. This consisted of a recital of the 
brutal story, all the particulars of which had been previously 
brought out in the trial, as exhibited in its record in this work. 
In this confession he shows that his object in committing the 
awful crime, was to obtain mone}^ of which he represents him- 
self as having been greatly in need. He also establishes the fact, 
as had been shown in the evidence, that James Greene was his 
first victim ; and further admits, that on the night that he called 
James Greene out to go and shoot the rac(ioons, he had planned 
to commit the crime that night. 

Still further, he asserts, that it was all the work of his own 
hands — that is, that no one assi.sted him to commit the awful act. 

Morgan closed his statement in the following words : 

" I had a good wife ; she was always good and kind to me ; 
she had talked to me time and time again about my soul's salva- 
tion. If I had only listened to her I might not have been in such 
a condition to-day ; this is an awful trying thing, knowing that 
I will have to die and leave my darling wife and child. 

"I hope that God will reward her for the kindness she has 
shown me through this trouble. 

" I ask God to forgive me for the way I have done. I ask in 
the name of God. for the people never to throw this awful crime 
up to my lovely child or dear wife. My desire is to go from this 
world to a better one. This for a warning to all who reads it. 
May God forbid that no one ever harbors an evil thought of this 
kind in their hearts. I am thankful to the ministers who have 
called on me since my confinement, and praying with me and 
instructing in the way of a better life. I thank the jailer and 
family for the kindness they ha^'e shown me since I have been 

"I am also thankful to my guards for the wa}' they have 
treated me. I am thankful to the sheriff of Jackson County, the 
way he has treated me up to the present time 

"This brings this all to a close, and I bid you all farewell, and 
pray to God that he may take care of my dear wife and child." 

John F. Morgan. 



On the evening of December 2, Morgan expressed a desire 
to retire earl)\ He had been engaged the greater part of the day 
in dictating his confession. About 3 p. m. he was let out the 
cage into the corridor, when he suggested to Jailer Riley and 
Charles Jewell, one of the guards, to get the checker board and 
plaj' a game of checkers, which they did. Morgan witnessed 
the game, not knowing anything, however, about playing, but 
pretending to be greatly interested, telling the players the game 
was very close and exciting. When they had finished one game 
he requested them to play another, and while this was going on 
Morgan went into his cage, pretending to go to bed, asking the 
Jailer and guards not to arouse him for supper, as iie had been 
losing a great deal of sleep and did not wish to be disturbed ; but 
to let him know in the morning how they "came out in their 
game of checkers." 

While he was talking he was arranging the bud clothes in 
the shape of a padd}- apparently, placing a newspaper over his 
face, a custom which he had been following for two weeks past, 
claiming the light hurt his eyes. 

Morgan then slipped out of the cage and around to the other 
side and climbed on top of it. Jailer Riley and Guard Jewell 
finished their game of checkers. Rile_\- then and locked 
the cage door, at the same time asking Morgan how he felt, Mor- 
gan answering from on top of the cage directly over his bed, 
■' very well." 

Guard Jewell at this time retired: returning about I' 
o'clock, going to bed in a cage adjoining that of Morgan's. 

Jailer Riley remained on duty until 11 o'clock p. m., and 


was then relieved by Guard M. F. Riley. At 11:30 Guard M. F. 
Riley went into the part of the jail occupied b}' the Jailer, two 
doors west of Morgan's cell, to eat a lunch, leaving the cell door 
open. This was the opportunity Morgan had been waiting for, 
and climbing down from the top of the cage, he walked out into 
the hall and opening the hall door, which was unlocked, made 
his escape. 

Guard Riley returned and remained on dut}- until 3 o'clock 
a. ni , which time he was to be relieved by Guard Jewell. That 
gentleman went around to the back side of the cage near Mor- 
gan's bed and listened attentatively for Morgan's breathing, but 
could not hear him. He then remarked to Guard Riley that 
something was wrong, and taking an iron poker raised up the 
paper, but found nothing but the pillow and a bundle of bed 
clothes. He at once raised the alarm, awakening Deput}' 
Sheriff R. P. Shinn, who had remained in town. Mr. Shinn im- 
mediately di.spatched Guard Jewell for his brother, Sheriff J. O. 
Shinn, who was at his home, ten miles south of Ripley. Jewell 
reached tlie Sheriff's residence about daylight, and by 9 o'clock 
a. m. at least two hundred and fifty deputized men had gone in 
different directions looking for the fugitive. All were directed 
by the vSheriff to take him alive. The Sheriff proceeded to the 
residence of Morgan's father-in-law, where he found the wife of 
Morgan. In answer to inquiries as to whether her husband had 
been there, she said, " Sheriff, I have sworn no lies in this mat- 
ter, and request you to ask me no questions." 

When Morgan escaped he went in the direction of his former 
home, two miles south of Ripley ; he took a horse belonging to 
A. S. Casto, from a stable near the highway ; he rode directly to 
his father's-in-law, about ten miles from Ripley, reaching there 
about 1:30 a. m. December 3, remaining there until about 4 
o'clock a. m., securing while there a valise and one additional 
coat and vest, a cap, some apples and a supply of tobacco. He 
then remounted the horse he had taken and started in the 


direction of his brother's-in-law, Enoch Casto, who lives about 
nine miles southeast from where his father-in-law resides. 

After leaving his father-in-law he rode about three miles, or 
to near where G. W. Shamblen lives, the place where he was first 
arrested after committing his crime. Turning the horse loose, at 
this point, he took to the fields and woods and crossing the ridge 
to main Grass Lick Creek he passed through the Pfost farm 
where he had committed his terrible crimes. He continued his 
journey through the woods to near where his brother-in-law lives, 
where he concealed himself behind some rocks until near dark. 
He then went to his brother-in-law's house and got his supper 
and a box of matches, requesting them not to tell of his presence 
there or he would come back and kill them and, if they did tell 
it, he would haunt them after he was dead, and then continued 
his journe}'. 

As .soon as he departed from his brother's-in-law his sister in- 
formed her neighbors that he had been at their place. After 
leaving his sister's, he traveled through the woods, some four or 
five miles, which brought him into Roane County and a strange 
region to him. There, he says, he stole another and after 
riding hard all night he found himself at the place where he had 
taken the horse ; he then built a fire in the woods where he re- 
mainded until noon. He then called at Armsted Harper's, who 
lives on Flat Fork, Roane County, and asked fbr dinner. After 
dinner he employed Mr. Harper to take his horses and convex 
him to Walton, in said county, about eight miles distant. 

Morgan informed Harper that his name was Hickman, that 
he had just passed through Jackson County and that John Mor- 
gan, the noted murderer, had escaped from jail and there was 
great excitement among the people, and that he was last heard of 
near the Great Kanawha River, and that a po.s-se of men was in 
hot pursuit. During the journey to Walton, Harper and Morgan 
fell in with W. B. Parsons, a minister, who resides near where 
Morgan committed his crimes and who is well acquainted with 


Morgan. They rode together for about two miles but Parsons 
did not recognize Morgan. When, within a few miles of Walton, 
Morgan met J. W. Fisher a half brother to Mrs. Chloe Greene, 
and Morgan's nearest neighbor before the crimes were committed 
and Wm. Chauncey, one of the first that was on the ground after 
the crime was committed, but, not knowing of his escape, neither 
of these recognized him. 

This is the narrative chiefly Morgan gives of his journey 
and circumstances seems to bear him out in his statement. As 
the first horse he took was tracked in the direction of his father- 
in-law, and was also seen where Morgan says he first turned it 
loose, and while his father-in-law would not admit him, being 
there, he had secured some of his old clpthes which he could have 
gotten no place else. It was also evident that he had been be- 
hind the rocks, as he had described, and also at his brother-in- 
law's. A. W. Slaughter, who lives near Morgan's brother-in-law, 
and who was deputized by Sheriff Shinn, heard of Morgan being 
in that vicinity. Early Saturday morning, December 4th, Mr. 
Slaughter, with a posse of men, followed Morgan's tracks at his 
brother-in-law's and pursued it over hills and hollows until after 
noon, when he came to the place where Morgan had employed 
Harper to take him to Walton and he (Slaughter) hurried on to 
that point, his other men being unable to keep up with him, 
reaching there twenty-five minutes behind Morgan. But, before 
he reached there, however, W. B. Parsons, who had fallen in with 
Morgan and Harper near Walton, concluded that the man was 
really John Morgan and swore out a warrant and he was arrested 
by Constable Camp before Mr. Slaughter arrived. Mr. Slaughter 
demanded the prisoner, but Constable Camp refused to turn him 
over to his custody, and immediately started to the Spencer jail, 
fifteen miles distant. Mr. Slaughter started back to notify Sheriff 
Shinn, and, when about five miles from Walton, he met that 
official and Deputy R. P. Shinn, who had heard of Morgan's 
whereabouts and was in hot pursuit. They then started for 


Spencer, the county seat of justice of Roane County, reaching 
there about 10 p. m., the officers having arrived with Morgan 
about an hour before and had him securely locked in jail. Sheriff 
Shinn demanded the prisoner, but the authorities refused to de- 
liver him over ; then hot words ensued, and serious trouble 
seemed imminent, but before any violence was resorted to, the 
authorities receded from their position and turned the prisoner 
over to the custody of Mr. Shinn who secured a conveyance and 
started for the Ripley jail, a distance of about thirty miles, reach- 
ing there at 10 a. m., Sunday, December 5th — fifty-nine hours 
after his escape. These were fifty-nine hours of wakefuhiess for 
Sheriff Shinn and his deputies, not offering to take a minute's 
sleep during the whole time. 

Morgan returned in apparently as good spirits as he went 
away, laughing and joking, telling how neatly he worked the 
guards, and relating several laughable incidents connected with 
his escape. 

Many wonder why Morgan did not make better time while 
out. Everything seemed to be against him. The nights were 
dark ; a cold, sleety rain was falling almost the entire time he 
was out ; the water courses were all up ; he knew nothing of the 
lay of the country, only in the immediate neighborhood where he 
lived. No doubt, leaving a warm cell thinly clad, that his suffer- 
ing from cold and exposure would be immense, and his second 
night's ride bringing him back to where he started almost frozen 
to death. No doubt he had given up all hopes of escape. 


H. I' KII.i;\'. the Jaiki, who had Morgan in his care. 


What were the motives which prompted John F. Morgan to 
commit the awful deed? This is a question which has been fre- 
quently asked, and all answers are that his primary object was 
money. This is shown by the fact that as quickly as he had 
beaten his victims into insensibility, he began a search for money. 
But a few minutes elapsed before John Chance}-, his son and 
Edward Southall, reached the scene. As they approached it, the 
former called to his companions to hasten forward. This, doubt- 
less, alarmed Morgan, and he hurried away to his own home. 
But before doing this he had searched various pockets in the 
clothing hanging around the walls, and from the pocket of his 
aged victim he is supposed to have taken the keys which enabled 
him to open the drawers in a bureau. These he is supposed to 
have been rumaging when freightened by the call of Mr. 

Mrs. Greene also had a pocket-book containing some gold 
pieces of rare date, which she always carried in her pocket ; this 
was gone. It is the opinion of many that the coat that Morgan 


wore at the time he committed the crime, and which he concealed 
and refused to tell where, if it is ever found, this money and 
pocket-book will be found with it. 

About two weeks before the murder, Morgan inquired of one 
of Mr. Amos Gordon's sons, who lives near and works some for 
Mr. Samuel Simmons, who was owing this note to the Greene 
family for the horse, if he knew whether or not it had been paid. 

Since the commission of the crime it has developed that Mr. 
J. D. Skidmore, who resides at Skidmore Post Office in Jackson 
County, visited the Greene family a few days before the murder 
to purchase a horse, which was the property of Miss Alice Pfost. 
That lady was absent from home, but Mr. Skidmore looked at 
the horse, ascertained the price asked for it and left, saying that 
he thought he would return to make the purchase. John Mor- 
gan appears to have learned this, for he went to the residence of 
Mr. Skidmore and asked that gentleman if he liked the horse, 
and received for a reply from him that he was very well pleased 
with it. Morgan then inquired if he (Skidmore) would pay casli 
for the horse, and was informed that a check, the equivalent of 
cash, would be given. To this Morgan replied, that he need 
not offer a check, for the lady would take nothing but tlie 
money. Mr. Skidmore then said it did not matter as he had 
another horse in view, and he did not go back to the 
horse at the Greene home. What was Morgan's object in all 
this? Was it not to obtain such information as would enable 
him to strike the blow at such time as he could secure the 
money? The check would be worse than useless; hence his 
efforts to have Mr. Skidmore pay the cash. 

Since Morgan's incarceration it has developed that shortly 
before the butchery of the family, he took a horse belonging to 
Prof. J. W. Greene, in whose house Morgan lived, and made an 
effort to sell it, riding over portions of Jackson and Roane 
Counties to do this, offering to take twenty-five dollars as a con- 
sideration, saj'ing in explanation that he wished to obtain money 


to make a payment on a tract of land which he had purchased. 
Whether this stor\- be true or otherwise, his object was to obtain 

Since the arrest of Morgan, it has been learned that on the 
27th day of October, 1<S97, he had forged an order, and Mrs. Chloe 
Greene's name thereto, for the sum of five dollars, to Mr. G. W. 
Pfost, a merchant at Fair Plain, and a son of the murdered lady, 
!Mrs. Greene, which order is in the words and figures following : 

"October 27. 1897. 
Mr. G. \V. Pfost pay to John Morgan the amount of 
five dollars ($5.00). I will settle the same with you. 

Your mother, 

Chloe Greene." 

Mr. G. W., knowing that Morgan had stayed with his 
inolher for a long time, and supposing that she wanted to give 
liim something, honored the order, letting Morgan have goods to 
that amount. 

-May there not be a secondary' motive here which prompted 
liim to commit the awful crime? This forgery was a felony, and 
would, when discovered, if he were convicted of it, send him to 
the State prison. But the only one who could testify as to this, 
the only one on whose evidence he could be convicted, was Mrs. 
Chloe Greene, name it was that he had forged, and if she 
were out of the way he would be safe. Who shall say that this 
was not a consideration with him as a secondary motive ? 


Executive Chamber. 

Charleston, December 6, 1897. 
O. J. Morrison, Esq., 

Care Stag Hotel, near Arcade, 

Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Dear Sir : — I enclose herewith, at the request of Attorney 

D. A. Brown, of Ripley, copy of the petition presented by John F. 


Morgan, sentenced by the Jackson County Circuit Court, to be 

hung on December 16, 1897, for the murder of the Greene family. 

Very respectfully, 

Robert A. Coleman, 

Assistant Secretary. 


On November 18, 1897, the following petition was made to 
the Governor by John F. Morgan, through his Counsel, D. A. 
Brown, and taken to the Governor by Mr. Brown in person : 

To His Excellency, George W. Atkinson, 

Governor of West Virginia. 

Your petitioner, John F. Morgan, would respectfully and 
humbly represent unto Your Excellency that heretofore, on the 
4th day of November, 1897, your petitioner was by the Grand 
Jury of Jackson Count}', West Virginia, indicted for the murder 

of one Mrs. Chloe Greene, on the day of November, 1897'-, 

all which will mpre fully and at large appear by reference to a 
certified copy of said indictment, herewith filed, and asked to be 
read as part hereof : 

Petitioner would further show unto your excellency that on 
the next da^-, to-wit. : On the 5th day of November, 1897, in the 
county aforesaid, at the court-house thereof, a jur}' was im- 
pannelled by the Circuit Court of said County, to try your 
petitioner upon the said indictment, and your petitioner says, 
that a trial of said indictment against your petitioner was had, 
and that a verdict was returned by the jury impannelled as afore- 
said, as follows : 

" We, the Jury, find the defendant guilty of murder in the 
first degree, as charged in the within indictment. J. D. Bradley, 

See the certified copy of the order impannelling said Jur^- 
and recording said verdict, filed herewith and asked to be read as 
part hereof : 


Petitioner would further show unto Your Excellency that on 
the next day, to-wit: On the 6th day of November, 1897, at the 
court-house, and in "the county aforesaid, your petitioner was 
again sent to the Bar of the said Circuit Court in custody of the 
Sheriff of said county, and was by said Circuit Court, on the day 
and year last aforesaid, sentenced to be hanged by the neck, by 
the Sheriff of said county, until he, this petitioner, be dead, and 
that said court fixed upon the 16th day of December, 1897, as 
the date upon which your petitioner is to be hanged : 

Petitioner says that the Court, in passing sentence upon this 
petitioner did not fix the time of his, this petitioner's execution, 
between the hours of 10 o'clock in the forenoon and 2 o'clock in 
the afternoon of said 16th day of December, 1897, but that the 
hours aforesaid, of 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, were fixed by said 
Circuit Court after this petitioner had been remanded to jail, and 
in this petitioner's absence. See certified copy of the order pur- 
porting to be the sentence and judgment of the Court, herewith 
filed as part hereof. 

Petitioner would further show unto Your Excellency that all 
of the evidence adduced by the State against this petitioner, as 
well as all of the evidence that could be procured upon such 
short notice, and in so short a period of time by your petitioner 
in his, your petitioner's own behalf, is herewith filed as part of 
this petition : 

Petitioner says that the same is not certified to by Mrs. Anna 
McVey, who was employed by the Court as short-hand reporter 
in the case of the State against your petitioner, upon the trial of 
the indictment, for the reason that your petitioner has no means 
with which to pay for a certified copy of the said evidence, and 
your petitioner therefore humbly asks that a copy of evidence 
here tendered, be read as part hereof, without being certified by 
the said short-hand reporter. 

Petitioner says that there was great haste on the part of the 
Court in all of the proceedings before it, during said trial, and 


petitioner says that great excitement prevailed during the time 
of the trial of this petitioner as aforesaid ; that the court room 
in which said trial was had, was crowded with people to its 
utmost capacity : that by-standers were continuously around and 
near the jury, during the time of the trial as aforesaid ; that 
threats of mob violence were made, during said trial, and that 
the Court remarked once or twice during the trial of this peti- 
tioner that speedy justice would be done ; and that it, the Court, 
hoped that the people would let the law take its course ; and the 
Court also remarked during said trial, and in the presence of the 
jury, that the trial of the case would be proceeded with as 
speedily as possible ; and petitioner says that the Court refused 
to give him longer time to make defense to said indictment, and 
that this petitioner was rushed and hastened into trial, and by 
reason of this extreme and unusual haste in the trial of said 
indictment, as aforesaid, great injustice resulted and was done to 
this petitioner. 

Petitioner further says that if the Court would have granted 
this petitioner more time in which to make proper defense to said 
indictment, that an entirely different verdict would have been re- 
turned by the jury in said case, and petitioner says that said trial 
was rushed along on account of the prejudice of the public 
against this petitioner, and for the apparent reason of avoiding 
mob violence, which was talked of or threatened by excitable 
persons, during the trial of the petitioner as aforesaid. 

Petitioner further says that he is informed and believes, and 
so charges, that the Constitution of this State guarantees to every 
citizen a reasonable time to prepare for his defense, when charged 
with crime, but petitioner says that he, this petitioner, was not 
granted a reasonable time to prepare his defense to the aforesaid 
indictment, but that the same was denied him by the Court. 

Petitioner, for the reasons apparent upon the face of the 
record filed with this petition, and for the reasons set forth in the 
foregoing petition, humbly prays Your Excellency to commute 


the sentence awarded by the Circuit Court of Jackson County, 
West Virginia, on the 6th day of November, 1897, against this 
petitioner, upon condition that this petitioner be confined in the 
penitentiary of this State for such period of time as Your Excel- 
lency may deem proper ; and petitioner here asserts to any order 
Your Excellency may make, in commutation of the sentence 
awarded by the Circuit Court of Jackson County, West Virginia, 
as aforesaid. And, further, petitioner most humbly prays that 
Your Excellency shall, and will, exercise the power conferred on 
Your Excellency as Governor of this State, by the Constitution 
of this State, to commute capital punishment in this petitioner's 
behalf, and that Your Excellency, as Governor, make and cause 
to be executed all orders and warrants necessary to carry such 
commutation into effect, and as, in duty bound, your petitioner 
will ever pray. John F. Morgan, 

By Counsel. 

State of West Virginia, Jackson County, to-wit: 

John F. Morgan, the petitioner named in the foregoing petition, 
being duly sworn, says that the facts and allegations therein con- 
tained are true, except so far as they are herein - stated to be on 
information ; and that so far as they are herein stated to be upon 

information, he believes them to be true. 

John F. Morgan. 

Taken, sworn to and subscribed before me, this 17th day of 
November, 1897. W. H. O'Brien, 

Notary Public. 

Upon this, Governor Atkinson was asked to commute the 
death sentence to imprisonment. That official directed Drs. T. B. 
Camden and L,- V. Guthrie, the former for eight years the super- 
intendent of the hospital for the insane at Weston, and the latter, 
the present superintendent of the hospital for the insane at 
Spencer, and both experienced in the treatment of the insane to 


make inquiry into Morgan's mental condition. This they did by 
visiting him at his cell, November 23d, and upon their reports the 
Governor refused to interfere in the course of the law. And on 
November 30th, J. A. Seaman, Prosecuting Attorney of Jackson 
County, before hearing any official report from the Governor, 
went in person to the Governor's office, with the following sworn 
statements : 

State of West Virginia, Jackson County, to-wit : 

Personally appeared before me the undersigned authority, Dr. 
L,. F. Campbell, who being duly sworn, says, I am a physician and 
surgeon, and have been in the active practice of my profession for 
over twenty-eight years ; the night before and on the morning of 
the trial of John F. Morgan, charged with murder of the Greene 
family, on motion of his (Morgan's) counsel, I, together with D. 
D. Casto, another physician, was, by the Court, sent to the jail 
where Morgan was confined, to ascertain the mental condition of 
the said Morgan; that after making such examination, I was 
then and am still of the opinion, that he (Morgan) was not in- 
sane, and that his was a case of extreme depravity. 

L. F. Campbell, M. D. 

Subscribed and sworn to before me in m}- .said county, this 
the 29th day of November, 1897. J. A. Seaman, 

Notary Public. 

State of Wp:st Virginia, Jackson Cointv, to-wit : 

Personally appeared before me the undersigned authority, Dr. 
D. D. Ca.sto, who being by me duly sworn, says, I am a physician 
and surgeon ; that the night before and on the morning of 
the trial of John F. Morgan, charged with the murder of the 
Greene family, on the motion of his (Morgan's) counsel, I, to- 
gether with ly. F. Campbell, another physician was, by the Court, 
sent to the jail where Morgan was confined to ascertain the men- 
tal condition of the said Morgan ; that after making such exami- 



nation, I was then and am still of the opinion, that he (Morgan) 
was perfectly sane. I have frequently observed him since his 
conviction and am of the opinion that he is still sane. 

Dennis D. Casto, M. D. 
Subscribed and sworn to before me in my said county, this 
the 20th day of November, 1897. John M. Baker, 

Notary Public. 

As the place of execution, Sheriff Shinn selected a beautiful 
spot on the Ripley and Charleston Pike, one-half mile south of 
Ripley, and there Major C. H. Progler, an expert mechanic, 
erected the scaffold. Major Progler married the daughter of 
Neheniiah Smith who, as high sljeriff of Jackson County, hung 
Charles Green, the only legal execution that has heretofore 
occurred in the county. 

Morgan stretched the same hemp that put out of existence 
Joe Brown, Amos Slaughter, Will Lewis and Albert Voirs. 

Morgan was pronounced dead by Dr. D. D. Casto and Dr. 
Earlev Harri.son. 

Scaffold on which Morgan paid his debt. 





The only public execution that has ever taken place in Jack- 
son County — previous to that of Morgan — was that of Charles 
Green, who expiated his crime on the scaffold, Friday, July 12, 
1850, for the murder of Timothy Fox, on the 24th day of July of 
the preceding year, in Park's Lane, about one mile above the 
town of Ravenswood, on the Ohio River. Both men had disem- 
barked from a steamboat that had been compelled to lay up at 
Buffington's Island on account of low water. Neither the mur- 
derer nor his victim was a resident of Jackson County. It was 
one of the most unprovoked murders, an account of which is re- 
corded in the criminal annals of Virginia. 

Green was arrested a few days after the murder and placed 
in the County jail to await trial. An indictment for murder was 
returned against him on. the 26th of March, 1850. On the same 
day he was arraigned before the bar to answer to the charge. 
His counsel demurred to the indictment, but the demurrer was 
overruled, and a jury composed of the following named gentle- 
men was empannelled : Leonard R. King, Thomas Paxton, 
Henry Lane, John Lee, Abraham Pfost. Jacob B. Hyre, William 
Harpold, John H. Chase, George W. Fields, Elisha Stewart, 
Spencer Adams, and Wilson Kountz. The jury was placed in 
charge of Nehemiah Smith, High Sheriff, and Mathias B. Arm- 
strong, his deput)', and the prisoner was remanded to jail until 
the next day. At 9 a. m. the next daj^ the jury and the prisoner 
were brought into court, and Charles Green was placed on trial 
for his life. Throughout the day the trial was continued ; even- 
ing came, the prisoner was removed to be returned on the third 


day, when it was continued. Late in the evening the argument 
for both State and prisoner ceased, and the jury retired. In a 
short time it returned and rendered a verdict of " Murder in the 
first degree in the manner and form as the indictment against 
him alleges." 

The prisoner was returned to jail to await sentence. On the 
1st day of April, he was again brought into court, and when asked 
if he had anything to say, why judgment should not be rendered 
against him, he replied, "nothing, but what I have already said." 
Judge David McComas then sentenced him to be taken by the 
Sheriff of Jackson County, from the jail, on the 10th day of Maj^ 
ensuing, to a scaffold to be erected in or near the town of Ripley, 
and there hanged until dead. Later he was reprieved until July 
12th. During the period of his incarceration, pending his execu- 
tion, he made a full confession of his crime, which, when pub- 
lished, covered nearl}' forty pages of a large paniphlet. 

At length the fatal daj- arrived ; the scaffold had been erected 
in a ravine, ever since known as Green's Hollow, about one-half 
mile northeast of the court house. It was a sultry July morning, 
and the sun had risen above the eastern hills ; lumdreds had 
arrived upon the scene, and by the hour of 11 o'clock, fully three 
thousand persons from Jackson and adjoining counties were 
swarming upon the streets of Riple}-. One hundred state militia 
formed a hollow square about the jail. At 1 P. m., a wagon con- 
taining a coffin was driven within the square, and the doomed 
man walked forth, and mounted upon his own casket, was driven 
to the fatal spot. Arrived there, he dismounted, and with his 
spiritual advi.ser, ascended the scaffold, where he delivered a short 
address to the multitude. The black cap was then drawn down, 
the rope adjusted, the signal given, and Charles Green swung 
into eternity. Twenty minutes later, Drs. 'W. B. McMahon, 
F. A. Holt, and A. Regnaud, pronounced life extinct. The body 
was then cut down and interred about thirty yards from the 
scaffold. Thus terminatedxtl^firgt exeqition in Jackson County, 

iiyitedxtVyfiQt exe<S|t 
vfeli^o maMf Jolffir 

and the only one prevfeo^o maWf Jolm F. Morgan.