Bullitt County History

Murder or Not?

In January 2012, I published this non-fiction book about a murder trial that took place in Bullitt County more than a century earlier. We have decided to serialize the book here on the museum web site. Links to each part of it will be added to its table of contents here. You may also use this link to go back to the previous episode.


Civil Suit Begins - February 7, 1902

The law office of Farnsley and Means in the Equitable Building at Fourth and Jefferson in Louisville was the scene on a cold Friday morning in February 1902 where John P. Cassilly, Louisville Criminal Court Stenographer and Notary Public, was summoned to transcribe the depositions of four people in the civil suit brought by Clara Barbour against Francis and Mary Hagan. Present were the four people to be deposed: John Barbour and his wife Clara, Harry F. Means, and William F. Ingram; as well as Barbour's attorney, Charles Carroll. Also present were Francis and Mary Hagan, and their attorney, James F. Combs.

These would be the first in a series of depositions taken in this case during the next twelve months.

The original petition to the court by Clara Barbour stated that the initial payment had been made, and both lien notes had been paid as well. It requested only that Francis J. Hagan, as executor of the estate of Henrietta Huber, "be required to release of record the lien retained upon said land to record payment of said notes."

In his answer to the petition, Hagan filed a counterclaim against Clara Barbour and a cross-petition against her husband. In it he stated that the $325 had never been paid, and that the two liens had never been delivered to Henrietta Huber or to anyone representing her.

His statement continued by declaring that, at the time of the initial transaction, Mrs. Huber was a neighbor of the Barbours and "reposed the utmost confidence in them." He stated that on November 20, 1899, when Mrs. Huber was at the train station in Louisville preparing to travel to Texas, she was presented with the deed which she signed. Because she was leaving town, she did not want to take either the cash or the lien notes with her, and she delivered both the deed and notes to John Barbour with the understanding that the Barbours would pay the money due and deliver the notes to her upon her return from Texas.

Hagan's statement concluded, "In violation of said promise and in fraud of her rights they did not pay to decedent said sum of money and did not deliver said notes and they did not pay said sum of money to the defendant's executrix or to anyone for her, and did not deliver said notes to her or to anyone for her, and no part of said consideration for said land has been paid and this defendant has a lien upon the said land to secure the payment of the purchase money."

And so the battle began. Barbour had, in his favor, the signatures of Henrietta Huber on the deed and the notes. Hagan would have to convince the judge that Barbour had committed fraud.

In his initial deposition, John Barbour's attorney asked him, "The deed recites the fact that the consideration for the land, was $635. Was that the true consideration?"

Barbour replied, "No sir, there was $200 added because she didn't want anybody to know what the land sold for, the same way she sold Mr. Lewis. They added on $200 on the first payment, which was $125 making $325, as agreed on by Mrs. Huber, Miss Mary Huber and I and my wife."

With this statement, he narrowed the initial payment to $125. When asked where that money came from, he said that it was his wife's money, from her mother's estate.

He also stated that the $125 was used to pay a note owed by Henrietta and Mary Huber. "They had a note to pay and didn't have the money in the bank, and they asked me – they didn't know how they were going to meet it and they wanted to know if I could let them have some money. I made some arrangements and paid that note they had as a first payment on the place in August."

Referring to the lien notes, his attorney asked, "I notice these notes are dated the 14th of November, and the deed was dated the 20th of November; how did it happen that these notes were dated before the deed; explain that?"

Barbour replied, "Mrs. Huber, being in the country, she also authorized me to have her will written, and have this deed made out by any lawyer in the city I mentioned. I told her Mr. Means. She said all right; and Mr. Means made out the deed and these two notes; and that was on 14th of November; and that night I took the deed out and gave it to Mary Huber and Mrs. Huber at the gate, told them to look over it and to see if it was all right, and took the two notes over and gave them to my wife. The deed and notes were not signed."

"What became of the notes?" asked Carroll.

"I gave them to my wife. The next day Miss Mary Huber talked to me about getting the money on the notes. She needed some more money. Her mother was going to Texas, and she wanted to have these notes discounted immediately so she could get that money. Her mother said she didn't want to go to Texas until their bills were all paid – they owed a good many bills. I said, 'Well, we will have to get these notes signed;' and the following evening Miss Mary met me at the gate and said, 'How about those notes that mother has to transfer?' I said 'My wife has them.' She went with me to the house and my wife gave them to her in my presence; and that is the last I saw of the notes until Mr. Ingram gave me the two notes and the deed in town – the deed signed and the notes endorsed."

"Then what did you do with those notes?" asked Carroll.

"I discounted them to Harry L. Means for Mrs. Mattie B. Tucker."

In a case like this, the term "discount" referred to the immediate transfer of the notes at principal value to another party who provided the immediate cash, and then collected the principal and interest according to the terms of the note. Thus, in exchange for the immediate cash, Mrs. Huber was forfeiting the interest to Mrs. Tucker.

"How much money did you receive on them?" Carroll inquired.

"I received a $285 check from Mr. Means."

Carroll next asked, "What was the face of those notes at that time?"

Barbour answered, "$310." He then explained that the $10 cost of writing Mrs. Huber's will, and the $15 attorney's fee for looking up the title on the land had been deducted from the payment.

Carroll wanted to know how much an acre the land was to be sold for. Barbour's answer was "$40 an acre." He also indicated that the total price for the land was $405; which was $30 less than the total of the initial payment plus the principal on the notes.

"How did you happen to execute your notes for $30 more than the purchase price?" his attorney asked.

"There was a dispute of $30 that Mrs. Huber got from Mr. Lewis and rather than to have a dispute I paid it."

"What do you mean by dispute?"

"I mean that they said they didn't get this money, it was payable to me, the check was, and I didn't have anything further to say about it, this $30 and I paid it, and added it on to this in the settlement."

His attorney wanted to know where he got the money to pay off the two lien notes. Barbour indicated that the money came from his wife's part of her mother's estate.

He was next asked, "What did you do with the money that you received from Mr. Means, attorney for Mrs. Tucker, when you discounted those notes to him?"

"I paid Mrs. Huber's bills and notes."

To the question, "Have you any statement of the bills and notes you paid?" Barbour replied, "Yes sir." and said that he had rendered a statement to Mrs. Huber in the Spring of 1900, which showed the amounts he had paid.

When asked, "Does that statement show the amounts you paid to various parties for Mrs. Huber out of the purchase price of this land and the names of the persons to whom you paid it?" Barbour said it did.

The photocopy of Barbour's statement is very difficult to read, but from other testimony we have reconstructed it as follows:

  1. Mr. Pete Smith note, $81.30;
  2. Mary Huber for taxes, $75.00;
  3. Mary Huber for the mill man, $50.00;
  4. Dr. Fultz bill, $30.00;
  5. L. & N. coal bill, $32.00;
  6. Mr. Means for will writing, $10.00;
  7. W.J. Hughes, $12.50;
  8. Iceman feed company, $8.24;
  9. Evening paper, $4.60;
  10. McCullough and Jenne, $7.10;

which totaled $310.74, a near figure to the $310 value of the two notes.

In this way, John Barbour attempted to explain how the money owed to Henrietta Huber for the land had been used to pay debts owed by Henrietta and her daughter Mary.

In a later deposition on August 12 in Bullitt County, Mary Huber Hagan offered explanations for these charges to show how they should not be charged to the payment for the property.

Regarding the Pete Smith note, she said, "That debt was mine. Mr. Smith wrote and told me he had frequent opportunities to buy fine young Jersey cattle in the stockyard, and would I like to have some of them. I wrote and told him, yes, to get me one or two; and he sent me word that he had gotten five, and the price of them amounted to $121. It was more than I had expected to pay for them; and I talked to Mr. Barbour about it, and told him I would give him a check for the amount – I had that much in the bank at the time, and more. He said that it would leave me such a small working capital that I had better make a note for part of it and pay part of it in cash; and I did it at his suggestion. My mother always went my security, but it was my cattle."

Mr. Combs, her attorney, asked, "Now, who furnished the money to pay off the Smith note?"

"I furnished it." was her reply. "I gave it to Mr. Barbour."

"Do you know from what source you obtained the money you gave Mr. Barbour to pay off the Smith note?" asked Combs.

"Yes. I sold some hogs."

"Did Mr. Barbour report back to you that, with the money you had given him, he had paid off the Smith note?"

"Yes sir; he did."

"Was there any agreement or understanding that he was, out of the proceeds of this 10¼ acres, to pay off this note?"

"None whatever."

When asked about the $75 for taxes and $50 for the mill man, she agreed that those were legitimate payments toward the cost of the property.

When asked about the bill for Dr. Fultz, she said "I owed Dr. Fultz $28 for some hogs I had bought from him, and I paid for them by selling a cow to Mr. Hagan." But she was uncertain about when she gave Barbour the money to pay this bill, saying first in December 1899, and then in August of that year.

She agreed that she was to have half of the load of coal for $32, but insisted that that was not a part of the property payment.

She also agreed that they owed Mr. Means $10 for making the will for Henrietta Huber.

Combs next asked, "Here is a charge of $12.50 to W.J. Hughes & Co., for lumber. What about that?"

"That, as well as I can recall, is for lumber to go into the room which he built – the room he added to the house. I had no building done at that time."

Combs continued, "Do you know whether he was authorized to pay that sum out of the proceeds of this land or not?"

"No; he wasn't authorized to do so." was her reply.

"Here is a charge of $8.24 to Iceman feed company. What about that?"

"That is right. We owed that bill. And I just want to say this, too, to be perfectly fair, and to explain matters: Mr. Barbour was in the habit of paying all of our bills. I would write him a note, and asked him to pay this bill, or that bill, out of the butter money, or out of my money, and he would do so. He knew exactly how much money I had, where it was, and everything connected with it; and I always gave him authority to pay all those bills whenever they came in."

Combs continued, "Was there any request or agreement that he was to use the proceeds of this land in paying that account?"

"No, there was not, because we had no statement of his account against us until June of 1900. If bills were sent to me I would open them, and give them to Mr. Barbour, and ask him to pay it out of my butter money, or whatever money I had. Sometimes I had money in his hands. I would sometimes get him to cash my checks, and would leave the money in his hands."

Next Combs asked, "There was no request or agreement that these evening paper was to be paid for out of the proceeds of this land, was there?"

"No sir." was the reply.

When Combs asked, "I see here a charge of $7 paid to McCullough & Jenne. Please explain that." she seemed to lose her composure and launched into a long statement.

"I don't understand that charge. I don't know anything in the world about it. I did owe that firm $25 in August, and I gave Mr. Barbour the money to pay it, and they told me afterwards it hadn't been done. The account ran on until it amounted to forty-four dollars some cents. I told Mr. Barbour to pay the account with the $25 which he said he had there, and to take the rest out of the butter money. Mr. Barbour told me that the money couldn't be paid just then, or need not be paid, because the firm had gone into the hands of a receiver and that he would attend to it when the proper time came. The first of January I got a letter from Mr. McCullough telling me that if the account was not paid they would bring suit against my mother for it. I went to Mr. Barbour, and ask him why he hadn't paid it; he said he would attend to it immediately.

"The following April when I was going to the city one morning Mr. Barbour came to me and said the bill had never been paid, but that he was going to pay it that day. That afternoon, which was Friday, I received a note from Mr. Barbour saying that he had settled the account of forty-four dollars and some cents for $25; that he had represented to McCullough and Jenne that their goods hadn't always been satisfactory, and they would have to take what they could get. I was very much distressed when I heard that; and the following Monday he went to my uncle, Mr. Casseday, President of the Bank of Commerce. That is all I know about that account. Mr. Barbour wrote me a note saying he had settled it for $25. I don't know anything about the $7 account; it may be correct; I can't say. The only account I know anything about was the one for forty-four dollars and some cents. A number of people read the note which Mr. Barbour wrote me on the subject."

Turning to the matter of the initial payment for the property, her attorney asked, "What was the agreement about paying the cash consideration for this land, and the proceeds of these notes, Mrs. Hagan?"

"He was to pay the cash just as soon as he could get it."

"To whom was he to pay it?"

"Either to me or to my mother."

"Well, did you ever ask him for the cash?" Combs asked.

"Yes sir, repeatedly. I asked him repeatedly to please let me have the money coming to me, and I sent people to see him about it. I even sent people to his house."

Next Combs inquired, "What reason did Mr. Barbour give for not paying the cash consideration other than the $50 and $75?"

"The reason he gave was that he didn't have it; and we didn't press him." was her response.

"State whether or not Mr. Barbour at any time claimed to you that he had paid these claims out of the proceeds of this land?"

"No, he did not." she replied.

"Did he ever make any such claim until he sent this statement to your mother in 1900?"

"No. He never saw my mother anymore except one morning on the train."

"Were you present in Shepherdsville one afternoon the latter part of November, 1901, when Harry Means, an attorney of the city of Louisville, accosted your husband about obtaining a release of the land?"

"Yes sir."

Combs said, "State whether or not he said anything on that occasion about having a check in his possession to pay the last note executed by Mrs. Barbour in payment for this land."

"Nothing whatever of that kind was said. He said he wasn't acting for Mr. Barbour, that he was acting for Miss Mattie Belle Tucker."

Next Combs asked, "State whether or not he said on that occasion that John Barbour had told him that your mother wanted to discount these notes for the purpose of obtaining the money to go to Texas?"

"He said that Mr. Barbour had told him that mother had to have the money on the notes to pay for the Texas trip. As a matter of fact she went on a pass."

This exchange referred to testimony by Harry F. Means in February. As we noted earlier, Mr. Means said that he went to Shepherdsville to ask Mr. Hagan to release the lien that had been paid, and Mr. Hagan refused.

In that deposition, Mr. Carroll asked Mr. Means, "Had you at that time the check for the payment of that second note?"

Mr. Means replied, "Yes sir."

"Did you tell Mr. Hagan that fact?"

"Yes sir."

Later in the deposition Mr. Means was asked by Mr. Combs, "Did Mr. Barbour tell you that Mrs. Huber wanted the money to go to the state of Texas?"

"I don't know whether he did or not. I am not positive about that."

Combs then asked, "Do you remember when you came out to Shepherdsville to see Mr. Hagan about getting the lien released, whether or not you told him that Mr. Barbour had told you that she got those notes discounted for the purpose of getting money to go to Texas?"

"I may have said that to Mr. Hagan, I don't know, but if I did I stated it under misapprehension of the facts, because I was not positive as to what the conversation was relative to the trip to Texas. I can tell this to you: that representing Mrs. Tucker it was my business as her attorney to satisfy myself at the time that I discounted these notes that Mr. Barbour had authority to have them discounted, and I felt in my own mind satisfied at the time the notes were discounted that he had authority to discount them. I had to do that in justice to Mrs. Tucker whom I represented in the transaction."

"At the time you came down to get the lien released, didn't you state that as the attorney of Mrs. Tucker that these people were declining to pay because the lien had not yet been released?" offered Mr. Combs.

"I did, from the fact that the check was given to me upon condition that I use it contingent upon the release of the lien."

"As a matter of fact, it had not been actually paid by the collection of the check?"

Means answered, "It was optional with me to accept it as payment, upon the release of the lien."

"Then you afterward accepted that check in payment of this note?"

"Yes sir, I was willing to accept the check all the time after that."

To Mr. Combs' inquiry as to whether Barbour had a condition attached to the check that they afterwards released, Mr. Means answered, "Yes sir."

Returning to Mary Hagan's August deposition, Mr. Combs asked her, "What was the agreed purchase price of this property in controversy?" to which she responded, "$635."

He continued, "Something has been said by Mr. and Mrs. Barbour as to the price being $40 per acre. What about that, Miss Mary?"

"That is correct."

"Well, how do you make the purchase price then $635?"

"$225 was the price for the improvements."

Combs then asked, "Do you mean to say that it was agreed that the land was to be estimated at $40 per acre, and the improvements at $225?"

"Yes sir."

"Was that understood by all the parties, and agreed upon?"

"Yes sir, I think so."

Combs next asked, "State whether or not it was agreed between your mother and Mr. Barbour and Mrs. Barbour that the deed was to show $200 more than the actual price agreed upon?"

"Not by any means; no."

"When was the price agreed upon if you know, Miss Mary?"

"In August, I think, of 1899; or perhaps it was in September."

"Now, Mr. Barbour claims that on 23 August, 1899, prior to this conveyance, he paid off at your request, and at the request of your mother, a note of $125 executed by you to Mrs. Horton, and that it was agreed that that should be counted and treated as part of the cash payment on this land?"

She replied, "It wasn't part of the cash payment on the land, but the payment on the note. It was my note, not my mother's; my mother, however, went my security on the note, as she had always done; but it was my own note, and had nothing to do with the purchase of this place at all."

"Did you furnish the defendant, Mr. Barbour, any money with which to pay that note?" he asked.

"I did. I furnished him $125."

"Did you request him to use the money you gave him in payment of that note?"

"Yes, I did; and he told me he paid it."

"Do you know from what source you obtained the money you furnished to Mr. Barbour for the purpose of paying this note?"

"I sold three head of cattle to Mr. A. V. Gooden; and I sold some hogs to Mr. Peter Smith, or, rather, he sold them for me, in the summer."

"Mr. Barbour and his wife say that you came over there and wanted to know if he would pay the Horton note, saying you didn't have the money, and was worried about it, and that it should be taken out of the purchase price of this land. Did such a conversation as that occur?"

"No sir. I never talked to Mrs. Barbour on business matters, because Mr. Barbour instructed me never to do so. Whatever I may have said about the matter I said to Mr. Barbour."

Switching directions, Combs asked, "Did you understand that Mrs. Barbour was expecting any money from her mother's estate with which to pay for this land, or any part of it?"

"She never told me that."

Combs asked, "Did she make any statement to you telling you what she expected to receive from her mother's estate?"

"Only furniture and pictures, that is all I know of her expecting to receive." was the reply.

"Mr. Barbour says that on the night of the 14th of November he took this deed out and gave it to you and your mother at the gate to look over and see if it was right. What have you to say to that?"

"I have never seen the deed; at least, only the back of it. I saw the back of it in Mr. Mean's office the day the other depositions were taken. That is the first time I had ever seen it; and if my mother had seen it she never would have signed it."

This statement is a bit perplexing, given that Mrs. Huber did indeed sign the deed, and endorse the notes at the train station.

"Mr. and Mrs. Barbour say that a few days after that, you came over to their house and got the note. How about that?"

"No sir; I never did that. I never saw the Lewis notes either, I never saw these notes until that day in Mr. Mean's office. I never had the notes in my hands."

Combs next asked, "Was Mr. Barbour authorized to discount those notes?" and she responded, "He was."

"State whether or not he suggested that he could obtain the money on them?"

"Yes sir, it was at his suggestion that they were discounted. He said he could discount them."

"And your mother agreed to it?"

"Yes sir, my mother agreed to have him do it."

Turning to the matter of the added $30, Mr. Combs asked, "Now, Mr. Barbour says $30 of the amount shown in the deed was not in fact a part of the real consideration for the purchase of the land, but that your mother claimed $30 due from the Lewis land, and rather than have any dispute about it he consented to have it included as part of the transaction concerning this land. Please explain that."

"There was a check for $30, the remainder of the payment on the Lewis property which Mr. Lewis told my mother he had given Mr. Barbour. Mr. Barbour said he didn't do it. Mr. Barbour always said he would make it good, but I never understood that it was to go on the purchase price of the place, neither did my mother."

"Was there any agreement that it should be included as part of the consideration set out in the deed?"

"Not at all. It was merely optional with Mr. Barbour. Mr. Lewis claimed that he had given Mr. Barbour the check, and Mr. Barbour said that he did not, but rather than have any difficulty with his brother-in-law he would make the check good."

"Has he ever paid that amount to your mother, as far as you know?"

"Not that I know of."

Shifting his questions to the deed signing, Combs asked, "Did your mother on leaving home on the 20th of November, 1899, take any of those notes and that deed to the city of Louisville?"

"She didn't take the deed or the notes with her. She didn't have them in her possession."

"What reason have you for saying or thinking that she didn't have them in her possession?"

"I've packed the little hand satchel she took with her on that occasion, and I know, of course, what was in it, and I know that those notes and the deed were not in there. She carried nothing else with her except her trunk, and she couldn't have gotten them out of her trunk. There was nothing of the kind in there, for I packed it, and there were only her glasses, handkerchief, purse, and articles like that in the satchel."

This was in apparent conflict with Mr. Ingram's earlier statement when, referring to Henrietta Huber, he said, "She presented me with a deed. … She signed the deed and then she presented two notes and endorsed those two notes."

At that time, Ingram was asked by Mr. Carroll, "At the time, did Mrs. Huber read the deed, or did she state whether or not she had read it?"

He replied, "I couldn't be positive about that, but it is my recollection she told me she had read it, or she did read it; I don't know which."

Calling into question the reason for Mrs. Huber signing the deed and notes in Louisville rather than locally in Shepherdsville, Mr. Combs asked Mrs. Hagan, "Had your mother been in the habit of always going to Shepherdsville to acknowledge conveyances?"

"Always. I think she was there a very short time before her trip to Texas."

"Do you know how it was she happened to acknowledge this conveyance in the city of Louisville?"

"She did so at Mr. Barbour's request."

"Had you suggested before that that your mother should come to Shepherdsville to acknowledge this conveyance?"

"We had spoken about it, and Mr. Barbour said it would be better to have her make her acknowledgement in Louisville, that it would save her the trip to Shepherdsville."

Mr. Combs inquired of Mrs. Hagan her knowledge of the family of Clara Barbour. From her he determined that Clara was one of ten children, nine still living, born to Elisha and Mary Jane Metcalfe. Then he had Mrs. Hagan file copies of the will of Mary Jane Metcalfe, and the deed that recorded the sale of the Metcalfe home as part of her deposition. As we will see, this was to lay the groundwork for a challenge to the Barbour's claim that they used the money from Clara's mother's estate to pay for the property.

Inquiring further into the relationship between the Hubers and the Barbours, Mr. Combs asked, "Mr. Barbour files a statement purporting to show what disposition he made of the two notes. Do you know whether or not he ever sent your mother a copy of that statement?"

"He sent my mother a copy of that statement in June, 1900."

"What did she say upon receiving it?"

"She was exceedingly angry with Mr. Barbour, and disappointed, for up to that time we couldn't help but feel that we could trust him." To this last statement, Mr. Carroll objected for the record.

Combs then asked, "When did the relations between Mr. Barbour and your mother and her family become unfriendly?"

"At the time of the murder of that old woman in our barn in the spring of 1900. She was murdered on the 12th of March, and her body wasn't found until the 19th. Up to that time the relations between Mr. Barbour and our family had been friendly; they never were any more."

Changing the subject, Mr. Combs inquired, "How many rooms were in that house when Mr. Barbour moved there, Miss Mary?"

"There were two rooms."

"Were any additions made to it during the time he occupied it as tenant?"

"Yes sir; he built a small kitchen. He told me if I would add another room he would take a lease on the place for three years. He was paying $24 a year rent, and he said if I would add another room he would pay three times as much rent as he was then paying, and take a lease on the place for three years."

"What did the improvements that you made there during that time cost?"

"About $100. I suppose the room would cost about that much."

"Do you know what that house originally cost your father?"

"$350." was her reply.

"Did Mr. Barbour owe any rent on that house at the time of the purchase of this land, Miss Mary?"

"From the time he went into the house we got $8 in cash, a Jersey calf, and the evening paper for all of that time. In addition to that, I was pasturing for him, always one cow, and sometimes two. One winter I kept a heifer for him in my barn, fed her, and my hands broke and milked her, and I never received anything for that; I never ask him anything for it, in fact; he always said, however, he would make it good, but he never did."

Mr. Combs began a new line of questioning, by asking, "When did he commence selling butter for you in Louisville, Miss Mary?"

"I think he commenced in 1897; and he stopped April – I don't think I sent any butter in after the April of 1900."

Thus far Mary Hagan's testimony had been largely in reaction to that of John Barbour. Now Mr. Combs opened a new line of questioning designed to put the Barbour's on the defense by asking, "Did he claim to invest any money for you?"

"Yes sir."

"How much?"

"$315. At first I gave him a blank check on the Louisville Trust Company, and he drew out all I had, something over $200. After that I gave him enough money to make about $315. He loaned this out, he said, at ten percent interest. He was careful to tell me to say nothing about this to anyone, and I only told my family; they knew of it."

Combs asked, "Did he ever return to you that money, or any part of it?"

"He has not."

"Have you attempted to have a settlement with him?"

"Repeatedly. Both I have asked, and have sent parties to him to try to get him to give me the money. My nephew is one of the parties I sent."

"When was that he obtained this money?"

"It was the spring of 1896."

Leaving this line of questioning, Combs asked, "Well, does he owe you any balance on collections for butter and other things?"

She handed him a piece of paper and said, "This is my butter account. He paid promptly up to November, 1899, when he went away hunting. The arrangement was that I paid the porter of the water company twenty-five cents to come and get the butter, and Mr. Barbour was to collect the money from the men when he came home. I had no account previous to that, because up to that time it had been absolutely a cash transaction. Each day he would sell the butter, and that afternoon would bring the money for it. When he came back from his hunting trip the latter part of November he said he would collect the money from the parties owing it, but on his failing to do so I began keeping an account."

After filing that statement with the deposition, Combs asked, "This 10¼ acres lies on the east side of the place and on the county road sometimes called the Blue Lick Turnpike, doesn't it?"

"Yes sir."

"And a passway runs across the north end of the place to the railroad, then south with the railroad line to Huber's Station?"

"Yes sir."

"About how far would that be?"

"More than half a mile, I should think." was her reply. While we cannot say for certain the actual length of the passway, it is likely to have been considerably less than half a mile.

Combs then said, "I will ask you whether or not the passway doesn't run across some of the best land on the place?"

"It runs across the best land we have."

This was in apparent reference to statements made in July in earlier depositions by John Henry Linn and Richard T. Lewis.

Mr. Linn, a neighboring farmer said that he owned about 275 acres that lay about a quarter of a mile from the Barbour place. When asked by Mr. Carroll what the Barbour land was like, Linn replied, "It was very poor land, and rocky. There are about six or seven acres of it that you can plow with a No. 20 plow."

When asked to explain what a No. 20 plow was, Linn said, "A No. 20 plow is light, you can't plow deep with it. I plow with 40's; that is a very heavy plow."

Mr. Carroll next asked, "What was the value, in your opinion, of that land at the time it was purchased by Mr. Barbour?"

"Well, if I had been buying it I wouldn't have given over $20 an acre for it."

"That estimate includes the improvements, and everything?"

"Yes sir."

When Mr. Carroll questioned Mr. Lewis, who was a brother-in-law to John Barbour, he asked, "What improvements were on this land that Mr. Barbour bought from Mrs. Huber at the time he bought it?"

Lewis replied, "It had a piece of a house on it. It had a couple of rooms, I don't know how many exactly."

"What character of land was it?"

"Well, part of it you can plow, about four acres, and part of it is not worth anything."

Carroll next asked, "What in your opinion including improvements and everything was that land worth an acre at the time Mr. Barbour bought it from Mrs. Huber?"

"About $20." said Lewis.

Venturing down another line of questioning, Carroll asked, "Do you own land near Huber's Station, Mr. Lewis?"

"Yes sir."

"How far is your land from this land of Mr. Barbour?"

"About a quarter of a mile."

"From whom did you buy it?" was the next question, and Lewis replied, "From Mrs. Huber."

"How is your land located with reference to the railroad, Mr. Lewis?"

"Part of it is right on the railroad."

"What did you pay an acre for the land you purchased from Mrs. Huber, Mr. Lewis?"

"I paid $17 or $17.50 an acre."

When asked, "How many acres did you buy?" Lewis replied, "Ninety-three and seven-tenths."

"What does the deed recite you paid for this land?"

"$2500, I believe."

"Was that more than you actually paid for it?"

"Yes sir."

"At whose suggestion was that done, Mr. Lewis?"

"At Mrs. Huber's suggestion."

When Carroll asked why this was done, Lewis stated, "Well, they didn't want to sell it at that price, because they might want to sell more of the land, and they didn't want it understood that they had sold it for that price."

This lent credence to Barbour's claim of a similar payment plan in his wife's case. The Lewis deed itself indicated an initial payment in cash of $1,100 and three notes, each for $466.67 due in one, two, and three years.

Carroll next asked, "How did you pay Mrs. Huber for the land? Did you pay her before or after you bought it?"

"I pay part of the money before I bought it."

When Carroll inquired as to why this was done, Lewis said, "Well, they wanted the money."

"To whom did you pay the money, Mr. Lewis?"

"I gave it to Mr. Barbour for Mrs. Huber."

Carroll wanted to know if Mr. Barbour was acting as agent for Mrs. Huber at that time, and Mr. Lewis confirmed it.

Carroll asked, "How do you know he was acting as her agent?"

"She told me so herself, and so did he."

Regarding Lewis' statement about the cost of his land, Mr. Combs asked Mrs. Hagan, "Something has been said about the deed from Mr. Lewis showing a greater consideration than was actually to be paid for the land. Is that right?" to which she responded in the affirmative. He then asked, "Who conducted the negotiations on the part of your mother for the sale of this land?"

"Mr. Barbour." was her reply.

"At whose suggestion was that that a greater amount was shown by the deed that was actually paid for the land?"

"It was Mr. Barbour's suggestion, because I don't know anything about the law. In the first place I didn't want to sell the land at all; I wanted to get more money for it, and I objected, because I said I hated to sell the land for such a price, as perhaps it might cheapen the other land. Mr. Barbour told me that that could be done, and that the real consideration need not be known. I had never heard of such a thing before; I didn't know that it could be done."

In his cross-examination of Mrs. Hagan, Mr. Carroll asked, "When did Mrs. Huber, your mother, die?"

"In December, 1900; the 27th of December."

"Her death was rather sudden, was it not?"

"Very. She had been in perfect possession of her faculties up to that time, but she had been in very poor health."

"When did she and Mr. Barbour have this difference you speak of? You say it was about the time this negro woman was said to have been killed on the place?"

"Yes sir."

"When was that, Mrs. Hagan?"

"In March, 1899."

Mr. Carroll sought to clarify, "Was it 1899 or 1900?"

"It was in 1899. I think she was killed on the 12th of March, and her body was found on the 19th of March."

He then asked, "Did Mr. Barbour have any transactions with Mrs. Huber after that?"

When she said, "He had no business transactions with my mother; he had some few with me. Perhaps I may have sent butter twice after that." Mr. Carroll pointed out the land deed had been made in November, 1899.

Mrs. Hagan, realizing her error, said, "I beg your pardon. I mean to say 1900."

Carroll countered, "Possibly your memory was confused as to those particular facts. Now, what time do you say that old negro woman was said to have been killed?"

"The 12th of March, 1900, and her body was found the 19th." As we will note later, she was also confused about the date the woman was found.

When he asked, "After that time there was but little business transacted between Mr. Barbour and your mother?" she replied, "Very little."

When he said, "In fact, there was unfriendly feeling, to a certain extent, existing between them?" she agreed.

Next he inquired, "When was it he sent your mother a statement of his accounts with her?" and she replied "In June, 1900."

"And your mother died in December, 1900?" he asked, and she agreed.

Next he returned to the account she had said was separate between her and John Barbour.

"This account that you file with your deposition, Mrs. Hagan, it embraces, as I understand it, a separate transaction between yourself and Mr. Barbour?"

"Yes; that is my own account."

"And entirely independent of the business transactions between your mother and Mr. Barbour?"

"It is entirely independent of my mother's transactions."

"Of course you don't know anything about what occurred between your mother and Mr. Ingram at the time the acknowledgment of this deed was made?"

"Nothing except what my mother and sister have said."

"After the coolness arose between your mother and Mr. Barbour in March, 1900, who attended to her business affairs?"

"I did, whatever business she had. I can't now recall any business that she had. After my marriage my husband, Mr. Hagan, attended to it."

"What attempt, if any, was made by your mother, yourself, or your husband, to collect the balance due upon this land from Mr. Barbour except by this suit?"

"There wasn't any effort made to collect it after he made that statement and sent it to my mother; but before that there had been. After we received this statement no further attempts were made. The statement was never disputed to Mr. Barbour. I consulted different persons about it."

"And no steps were taken by anyone to attempt to collect this amount which was claimed to be due on the land until this suit was filed – isn't that true?"

"Yes. None whatever; and there never would have been any steps taken."

"You say you consulted persons about the statement?"

"I consulted a number of people about it. I knew Mr. Barbour had nothing, and nothing could be made off of him, that his place was in his wife's name. I disliked very much the unpleasantness of the suit, and my mother felt the same way about it, although she said she never would release the land."

"But your mother, during her lifetime, never disputed this statement?"

"Never, though she repeatedly said she hadn't been paid."

"She didn't say that to Mr. Barbour, did she?"

"She didn't speak of it to Mr. Barbour, no. We never any of us spoke to him except once my mother did. Once he took her by surprise – he spoke to her on the train and she simply said 'good morning.' She came home and said she didn't see how he had the face to speak to her."

Statements made by Mary Hagan in her deposition in August 1902 call into question the relevance to the Barbour-Hagan conflict of a murder that took place on the Huber farm in March 1900.

As mentioned earlier, she dated the beginning of "unfriendliness" between her family and John Barbour with the murder of an old woman in a Huber barn.

Later, with regard to a note she had sent to Barbour, she added, "Mr. Barbour's attitude towards us in the matter of the murder was so exceedingly unfriendly, and I had written him something about a letter that I had received from a man in the south who at one time owned this negro woman. After I had written a note I decided I wouldn't send it, and I tore it in two, and sent just that much of it by Fritz." Fritz was one of her farmhands.

To attempt to understand why Mary Hagan placed so much significance on this event, we will step aside and examine what happened.


Copyright 2019 by Charles Hartley, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 9 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: 21 Jan 2019 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/murder/murder-4.html