Bullitt County History

Buky Family Tragedy

We recently found several reports of a family tragedy that took place near Mount Washington in 1857. The first was reported in a publication titled Raftsman's Journal which was published on 29 Apr 1857 in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. It is transcribed below.

Terrible and Fatal Affair.

A terrible affair occurred in Bullitt county, Ky., two or three miles from Shepherdsville, on Thursday last. A young man in the neighborhood had for some time been paying attentions, with a view to matrimony, to a young lady named Elizabeth Buchey. For some reason the young gentleman was objectionable to the girl's father, Mr. Julius Buchey, who broke off the alliance and forbade the young man's visits. It is said that, in compliance with her father's wish, the young lady discarded her lover; but the old gentleman, suspecting his daughter still indulged a lingering affection for her admirer, has been watchful of her movements.

She expressed a wish on Thursday morning to spend the day at the residence of a neighbor, Mr. Elias Hall, to which her father objected, adding that he had no doubt but it was her design to meet her old lover. The young lady protested that she had no thought of meeting him, and rebuked her father for his lack of confidence. During the conversation Mr. Buchey became excited and exasperated, and, drawing a revolver, fired at his daughter, the shot taking effect in her head. The first shot was not fatal, and the young lady turned to run, when the father fired another shot after her, which penetrated a vital part, killing her instantly. Conscious of the terrible crime which he had committed, but frantic with excitement, the unnatural parent discharged the contents of a third barrel into his own head, and expired as he fell. The tragedy is rendered even more painful by the reflection that the father has been highly esteemed by his neighbors and all who knew him, was well to do in the world, and apparently happy.


As is often the case, even today, such stories were often re-printed far and wide. We found another version of it across the Atlantic Ocean in London, England. It was re-published in The Illustrated London News, on 2 May 1857 from the Louisville Courier and is transcribed below.

Domestic Tragedy in Kentucky

A fearful tragedy was enacted near Mount Washington, in Bullitt County, on Thursday, April 2, at the residence of Mr. Julius Bukey, an old gentleman, who first took the life of his daughter Bettie, and then his own. The particulars of this bloody deed, from what we can learn, are these: -- A young man named John Roby, a neighbour, had been paying his addresses to the daughter, who was partial to him, but the match was strenuously opposed by the father of the girl. He had an intimation or impression that they were about to elope to get married, and on the fatal evening the young lady, who was about seventeen years of age, told her father, who had but the moment before entered the room, that she would pay a visit to a neighbour. This excited the suspicions of the father, who remonstrated with her, and refused to let her leave the house. Angry words ensued and in the heat of passion he first struck her and then drew a revolver and shot her twice, both shots taking effect, one through her head and the other in her back. The unfortunate girl fell dead at his feet, in the presence of the horror-stricken wife and mother. The wretched man, on the instant of committing the deed, rushed from the house with the fatal weapon in his hand, pursued by a son, who had been hastily attracted to the scene by the report of the pistol. He tried to seize his father's arm to prevent further bloodshed, and to wrench the pistol from him, but he eluded his grasp, and, after retreating a few steps, placed the pistol to his own head, and blew his brains out. Mr. Bukey was a man of some property, and much respected by his neighbours, and was over fifty years of age. -- Louisville Courier.


We located this family in the earlier 1850 census, as shown below:

1850 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, page 151A, household 17/17
J. C. Buky - 44 M, farmer, born KY
Sarah E. Buky - 40 F, born KY
Mary C. Buky - 18 F, born KY
John W. Buky - 16 M, born KY
Rebecca K. Buky - 14 F, born KY
Elizabeth A. Buky - 12 F, born KY
Davis Buky - 10 M, born KY
Julius C. Buky - 7 M, born KY
Cordelia Buky - 4 F, born KY
Sarah E. Buky - 2 F, born KY

Julius C. Buky married Sarah E. Smith in 1828. He was born 24 Mar 1806; she was born 24 Nov 1810 and died 16 Apr 1890. Both are buried in the New Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Bardstown KY, along with their stricken daughter Elizabeth who was born 14 Jun 1838.

Julius and Sarah's eldest daughter, Mary had married John Overall, Jr. on 6 Jan 1852, but had died of typhoid fever before this reported tragedy occurred. It is possible that her early death may have been a factor in her sister's later tragic death.

Julius and Sarah had one other child, Smith Polk Buky who was born 2 Oct 1850. He die 4 Mar 1914 in Spencer County.

The young man, John Roby, named in the London story, has not been positively identified as yet.


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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 13 Jul 2015 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/buky_tragedy.html