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 Case Continues - August 18, 1902

Monday was cooler than normal with a chance of rain as five men gathered at the Citizens National Bank in Louisville. They were there to examine the bank's records for John Barbour. The Hagan's attorney was prepared to depose William Edmunds, the bank's cashier in an attempt to show that John Barbour had not made any deposits or withdrawals from the bank sufficient to make the payments he claimed.

Present were the attorneys, Mr. Carroll and Mr. Combs, John Cassilly, the notary who would transcribe the depositions, and the two principals, Francis Hagan and John Barbour.

From Mr. Edmunds they determined that John Barbour opened a regular account at Citizens on January 1, 1900, and that there were never any deposits to it greater than $200, but that there had been numerous small deposits and withdrawals to the account.

Next they moved to the Bank of Commerce where John J. Hayes was deposed. He testified that John Barbour discounted a note from Ada Metcalfe for $120 on September 2, 1899 which was repaid in installments between December 2 and May 5 of the following year. He also indicated that Barbour discounted a note to R.T. Lewis for $225, that was due February 28, 1901.

Two days later, Ada Metcalfe, Clara Barbour's sister, was deposed in Shepherdsville. Previously, a deed between her and a Mrs. McGee had been entered as a part of Mary Hagan's deposition.

According to the deed, Miss Metcalfe sold the house deeded to her in her mother's will to Mrs. McGee on January 23, 1900. The deed showed that the house and property were sold for $3,740 of which $1,465 was a cash payment. The balance remained with Mrs. McGee as she assumed the two mortgages owed by Miss Metcalfe; one of $1,800 owed to Elizabeth Wiest, and the other of $475 owed to the law firm of Farnsley and Means. Miss Metcalfe also seems to have been obligated to pay the taxes due for 1900.

In her deposition, Mr. Carroll asked, "Did your father get any part of that money?"

"Yes sir; he got $1000."

He asked, "When your mother died and conveyed to you this property, was there any understanding as to what was to be done with it?"

"Yes sir. The understanding was that it was to be divided equally among the children."

"How many children were there?"

"There were ten children." was her response.

Mr. Carroll wanted to know, "Did Mrs. Barbour get any portion in that division?"

"Yes sir. She got her portion, and a portion of three of the boys." she replied. "She got Sydney's, Walters, and Harry's."

Carroll asked, "How much in all did Mrs. Barbour get, if you remember?"

"She got between four and five hundred dollars, perhaps $450 or $75. I don't quite remember exactly how much she got."

When he asked, "Who paid her that money?" she replied, "I paid her parts of it at different times."

"Do you remember when you made her the first payment, or how it was made?"

"No, I do not. A great deal of this has slipped my memory, you know. Sometimes I paid her in cash, and sometimes perhaps by check; I couldn't say for certain."

"Did you pay her any of it before the house was sold?"

"Well, now, about that note. Of course that was to go as a payment." she explained. "I endorsed a note for Mr. John Barbour. That was to go as a payment on her house."

When he asked, "How much was that note?" she said, "$120."

"Who paid the note off?" inquired Carroll.

"I furnished the money. I endorsed the note for Mr. Barbour, and then he paid it part of the time, until it was paid up."

"Did you make other payments to Mrs. Barbour?"

"Yes; either to Mr. Barbour or to Mrs. Barbour. Sometimes I made the payment to one, and sometimes to the other."

"Did you keep any receipts showing those various payments?"

"No, I did not. After it was all settled up I destroyed everything I had."

Later he inquired further, "Do you know for what purpose this $120 on the note you speak of endorsing was gotten?"

"I think it was to be one of the payments on her home, to go towards the payment of her home."

"Do you remember when the note was endorsed by you?"

"I think it was September, 1899."

Next, Mr. Combs cross-examined her with the obvious intent of casting doubt on how much money Clara Barbour actually received from her mother's estate.

Inquiring about the proceeds from the sale of her mother's property, Mr. Combs asked, "What was each child's share?"

She tried to explain, "You know there were some little matters among ourselves; perhaps some borrowed a little money from another, and in that way some got one amount and some another. Of course there being 10 children I couldn't say exactly what each one got. I suppose on average each share was perhaps $200, between $150 and $200; I couldn't say for sure."

Combs clarified his question, "Well, any little indebtedness that might exist between different members of the family would not alter each child's proportional part. What I mean is, what was each child's share?"

"I suppose it was about $150 – between $150 and $200; I couldn't say for certain."

As Combs' questioning continued, it became obvious that Miss Metcalfe was not well acquainted with the financial aspects of the settling of her mother's estate.

Combs asked, "Now, the place sold for $3740. How much actual money did you get out of that transaction?"

"I couldn't tell you the exact amount. My father got $1000 – and then the mortgage – I suppose it amounted to somewhere around $2000."

"You said something about some taxes. What was the amount of taxes that you had to give out of the purchase price?"

"I couldn't say."

"Please approximate it, if you can. Was it 100, or 200, or $300?"

"Perhaps it was $150 or $200."

"You said something about an alley that had to be deducted from the purchase price. What was that?"

"Well, let me see. I couldn't say exactly. It was perhaps $40 or $50, somewheres along there. I couldn't positively say."

"Now, at the time you conveyed this place to Mrs. Grace Simpson McGee there was a mortgage on it of $1800, was there not?"

"I suppose so. What does that deed say? I really don't know."

"The deed itself shows that there was a mortgage to Elizabeth Weist of $1800. Is that correct?"

"There was a mortgage to Elizabeth Weist." was her uncertain response.

He inquired further, "Of $1800?" and she responded, "I suppose so."

"And there was another mortgage on that property of $475 executed to B. H. Farnsley and Harry L. Means as shown by the deed. Is that correct?"

"Perhaps it is."

"And you actually got in cash $1465."

"I suppose it is correct. I have forgotten a great many of these things, because I had no occasion to recollect them."

Combs next surprised her by asking, "Didn't you buy at a judicial sale the courtesy of your father in this property, and give $675 for it?"

"I don't understand. I don't remember any such transaction."

When he repeated his question, she insisted, "I don't remember such a thing. I don't remember buying anything of that kind."

Combs produced a copy of a judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court in case of the Werst Plumbing Company against Elisha Metcalfe and others, in which that company, holding a lien on the property, forced the sale of the property to satisfy the debt. The judgment shows that Ada Metcalfe purchased her father's "life estate" in the property for $675 by signing two notes, each for $337.50, that were due in six months and a year. R. T. Lewis, her brother-in-law, stood as surety.

He asked again, "Out of the sale you got in cash $1465. Is that correct as shown by the deed?"

"Yes, I suppose it is correct if it is in there."

"Well, if you bought the courtesy of your father in this property for $675 under a judgment of the court, did you pay that out of this money? Was that deducted from the $1465?"

"No. He was given his thousand dollars, of course, when the house was sold"

"Didn't he convey to you by deed his courtesy in this property for $950?"

"Yes, I suppose that is what you would call it."

Combs continued, "Then, in addition to what you paid your father, didn't it turn out that an attachment lien had been created upon his interest at the time you bought it, and didn't you have to buy his courtesy under a judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court for $675, and pay that in addition to the amount you had already paid for it?"

"No. After we gave him his amount that settled it. It was then settled, and we didn't have to pay anything extra."

Combs insisted again, "Didn't you, after this deed was made by your father to you for his courtesy, buy his courtesy sold under a judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court – or his homestead – giving therefore $675, and executing bonds with R. T. Lewis as surety?"

"I don't know." she replied, now clearly confused.

Combs next asked, "Now, Miss Metcalfe, you say you don't know when, or the amounts of those payments you made your sister; and that sometimes it was paid to Mr. Barbour, and sometimes to Mrs. Barbour?"

"I don't remember. I paid it just as it was convenient, I could say to which one; I paid it to the one it was most convenient. Mrs. Barbour came in very often, and sometimes I would make the payment to her; and sometimes I would make the payment to Mr. Barbour."

"Do you remember the times, or the amounts, you paid?"

"No, I couldn't say at all." she replied.

"When you made this deed to Mrs. Grace Simpson McGee you got $1465 cash. What reason was there for not paying all of Mrs. Barbour's share at once?"

"Well, she may have gotten it just as it was convenient to her; perhaps she didn't care for it just then; I don't remember just how it was. You know at different times she got the different boy's shares, and her own, and I couldn't say why I didn't give her all her shares at once. Just as she asked for it I gave it to her."

"Could you name any amount that you paid her at any one time?"

"No, I couldn't say."

"Can you give the date of a single payment you made to her?"

"No sir, not a single amount."

"And you don't know whether you paid her the cash or by check?"

"No, I do not. Of course I had a great deal at that time to attend to, and I didn't pay very particular attention to it."

Changing tactics, Combs asked, "Well, was there any other estate to divide other than the $1465 you got in cash?"

"My mother left some cash besides that, but I couldn't say exactly how much that amounted to."

"That didn't pass under this will, did it?"

"No, it didn't pass under the will at all; it was just her wishes."

"Do you know how much cash she left?"

"Let's see: it was perhaps between two hundred and five hundred dollars."

When Combs asked where that money was kept, she replied, "Right in the house. It was in gold."

Combs wanted to know, "Was there anything to divide other than the $1465 that you had gotten for the property, and the cash you mention?"

"No other cash. Of course there was a little furniture at home; each one possibly cared for a certain piece of furniture, and they took it; that was all. There was no other cash."

Combs asked again, "Out of this $1465 you paid those taxes and the alley, didn't you?"

"I paid the taxes."

"And the alley you speak of, you paid that out of the $1465, didn't you?"

"Yes. I couldn't say what the taxes amounted to."

"And then if you bought this property at the judicial sale, you paid the bonds out of that too, didn't you?"

"I don't understand." she pleaded, clearly becoming rattled by his questions

"I say, if you did buy the homestead or courtesy, which ever was sold, if you bought that at $675, and paid the bonds, you paid them out of this $1465, didn't you?"

"I suppose I did, if it had to be paid. I don't remember."

"Well, did you pay your mother's funeral expenses out of this cash, the proceeds of this property?"

"Oh, no, it didn't come out of this $1465. You see mother died in 1896. Nor did it come out of the cash she left, either; I am sure it didn't come out of the cash."

"It was paid out of her estate, wasn't it?" he asserted.

"No, I think father attended to that himself."

In re-direct examination, Mr. Carroll gently inquired, "You have had very little experience in business matters, Miss Metcalfe, haven't you, especially in dividing up estates?"

"I have had very little experience." she agreed.

"And the matter of dividing up your mother's estate was the first business of that kind you had ever attended to?"

"Yes. That was the first time I had ever had anything of that kind to do."

He asked, "That business was all done through a lawyer?"

"Yes, and a great deal of it I didn't really understand." she said.

While the numbers remain confusing, it does appear that the estate shares received by Clara Barbour were less than indicated by testimony.

On the same day, John Barbour was deposed in rebuttal to the previous testimony of Mary Hagan. As we continue examining the testimony given in this civil case, it largely becomes a matter of "He said, she said," leaving us to ponder the validity of statements made by each side. Still, by examining the statements made by both sides, we may be able to draw closer to the truth.

Mary Hagan, in her earlier deposition, challenged a payment for lumber, indicating that the lumber was for a room that Barbour built on his place, and she stated "I had no building done at that time."

In deposing John Barbour, Mr. Carroll asked, "Was any building done by her during that time?"

Barbour replied, "There was. She built one cabin for Will Johnson."

Carroll next produced several papers, and asked Barbour to state what they were.

"One is a letter written to me by Mrs. Hagan, and the bills are bills of lading." stated Barbour.

"The letter contains a request for certain sashes, doesn't it?"

"For one window sash, yes sir. It was ordered as she requested."

"Is one of the bills accompanying that letter for the window sash, a bill of the L. & N. railroad company for freight on the sash?"

"Yes. It was used in the cabin, or in the buggy shed in 1899." explained Barbour.

Carroll asked, "Are the other bills attached to the letter bills for freight on lumber furnished Mrs. Huber in the year 1899?" and received a positive reply.

"To what extent was building done on that place in the year 1899?" asked Carroll.

"Well, there was fixing the roof of the main house, building one cabin on the county road, and building one buggy shed."

"Now, it is said that there was about $100 worth of improvements placed on the property you own before you purchased it. What about that?"

"That is not so. I paid for all of it, even the building of it. Mr. Wayne Caldwell, of Shepherdsville, built it."

"He did the work, and you paid him for it?"

"Yes sir."

Carroll next inquired, "Mrs. Hagan says in her deposition then after you presented this bill rendering an account to her mother in June, 1900, they never made any steps to collect the balance due on the land. She says, 'I knew Mr. Barbour had nothing, and nothing could be made off of him, that his place was in his wife's name.' I will ask you what salary you are now receiving, and for what length of time you have received it?"

"I am receiving $1500 at the present time per year. From 1897 up, $1200 a year."

Carroll asked, "Couldn't that debt have been made off of you at any time?" and Barbour's reply was "Any time."

Barbour also denied that Mary Hagan had given him any money to pay the P. K. Smith note, nor money to pay the $125 that she owed Mrs. Horton.

Next Carroll asked, "Mrs. Hagan files with her deposition an account against you amounting to three hundred and some odd dollars, which you owe her; and while she states that there had been nothing to do with this case, it is filed."

However, rather than inquiring about Mrs. Hagan's alleged account against Barbour, Carroll instead asked, "Have you an account against her?"

"I have. You will find it with the papers you have there – the receipts." Barbour referred to papers he had previously given to his attorney.

"Are the papers you referred to receipts showing where that money went?"

Barbour picked up one sheet of paper and said, "Yes. This is an itemized account of the bills paid for Mary T. Huber, and money advanced; and the accompanying papers are receipts."

"You paid Mrs. Hagan in full of her butter account?"

"I did; and I have a receipt for it."

Carroll handed Barbour a letter and asked, "In that letter does Mrs. Hagan asked you to pay any the amount due her on her butter account?"

"Not in that letter, no; but it was customary for her nephew, Edward Huber, to call in my office and get it."

"Did Edward Huber sign the receipt that is filed with that letter?"

"He did. She writes in the letter attached to that receipt that that would be the last twenty-five pounds she would send. She was to get twenty cents a pound for it, and Edward Huber called for the money. His receipt is attached."

Next, referring back to Mary Hagan's claim that Barbour was in arrears on his rent payments, Carroll asked, "What rent were you paying for this place before you purchased it?"

"I was to pay $12 for the rent, and $1 for cow pasture, $24 a year, including the cow pasture."

"How did you pay it?"

"I settled up every November up until 1898."

"After that, how did you do?" asked Carroll.

"Mrs. Huber overdrew all the money she had in 1898, and after that she owed me. As to the pasturing, my horses were pastured at Dick Shepherd's one year, and one year at Jim Tolliver's."

"Mrs. Hagan claims that she let you have $315, and that you used it in various ways. Those transactions had nothing to do with the sale of the land, had they?"

This question suggested that Mrs. Hagan did provide Barbour with the indicated funds.

Barbour's answer of "Nothing whatever" also seemed to indicate that there were transactions of some kind.

Carroll continued, "And upon a settlement between you and Mrs. Hagan concerning all transactions had between you, you claim she is indebted to you?"

"She certainly is."

Satisfied with that answer, Carroll next asked, "Mrs. Hagan says in her deposition that the purchase price of the land was $40 per acre, and that the improvements were valued at $225. Was there any understanding between you of any kind or character that the improvements were to be valued at $225 and the land purchased at $40 an acre?"

"No sir. I never heard of it."

Carroll then inquired about Mary Hagan's statement that the passway was over the best land on the place, apparently meaning all of the Huber land. Barbour agreed that it did run over the best land, but placed its value at $17.50 and acre, the same that R. T. Lewis had paid for land within fifty feet of it.

This debate over the value of the land goes to the heart of the issue. Mary Hagan hoped to show that the land was so valuable that they would never discount it by $200 as claimed by Barbour. John Barbour wished to show that the land was not even worth the $40 an acre that he claimed his wife paid for it.

Carroll asked, "What sort of passway is that, Mr. Barbour?"

"It is just a right-of-way over the ground for my family, an outlet to the depot."

Having made his point here, Mr. Carroll next inquired, "Did you have any conversation with Mrs. Hagan concerning the note of $81.31?"

"No sir, I did not – not in 1899."

"Did you pay that note of $81.31?"

"I did. I paid it out of the discount – notes of Mrs. Huber's for the purchase price of the land."

Now Mr. Carroll turned his client over to Mr. Combs for cross-examination.

Picking up the butter account receipt, Mr. Combs asked, "Do I understand you to say that this receipt was intended as a receipt for the payment for the amount of butter shown in that letter, and that it was intended to cover that 25 pounds mentioned in the letter, and nothing else?

"That's all."

"Then it was not a receipt in full for the butter, but merely a receipt for the 25 pounds mentioned in the letter?"

"It was in full for the amount of butter. That was all I owed her for."

Combs persisted, "I am asking you if the receipt you have filed with your deposition was merely for the amount of butter mentioned in this letter?"

"It was a receipt in full for the whole amount." was Barbour's persistent reply.

"Didn't you say just now that it was a receipt for the 25 pounds mentioned in the letter?"

"It is a receipt for the 25 pounds, yes sir."

Combs did not seem satisfied with this reply, and asked, "Is that receipt for more than the 25 pounds amounted to?"

"That is a receipt in full for the amount to date."

"What is the date on the top of the receipt?"

"April 12, 1900." responded Barbour.

"When was that date put there?"

"The day he signed that order."

Combs then asked, "Has that receipt been changed any since he signed it?"

"No sir." was the reply to this attempt to suggest that it had indeed been changed.

"At this point, Mr. Carroll, in a re-direct question, asked, "It is stated by Mrs. Hagan that after this account was sent by you to Mrs. Huber in 1900 that you never had any further dealings and that you never had any further conversation with Mrs. Huber. What about that? Did you see her after that?

"Oh, yes."

"Did you have talks with her?"

"Lots of them."

"Was she friendly with you?"

"Perfectly so."

"Were you friendly with her?"

"Perfectly."

"Did she ever dispute the account you sent her?"

"No sir, never."

Mr. Combs again raised questions, starting with, "You say that in 1899 and 1900 the debt you owed Miss Mary Huber could easily have been made. Of what did your property consist that was subject to the payment of debts?"

"I was making more than $50 a month."

Combs asked, "Did you own any property?" with the intent of showing that Barbour owned nothing that could be held to force a payment. Recall that the property in question was in his wife's name.

"No, no real estate." said Barbour.

"Did you have any personal estate subject to the payment of debts?"

"None that I know of."

"Then, how could you have been made to pay it?"

"Pay it out of my salary." Barbour replied, attempting to show that he had money to pay his debts.

Later, returning to the question of the money Mary Hagan claimed to have given to Barbour to invest, Combs asked, "Have you the check that was given you by Miss Mary Huber on the Louisville Trust Company?"

"Have I a check on the Louisville Trust Company?"

"Yes, for this money she let you have for the purpose of reinvesting?"

"I have no check of hers."

"Didn't you have that check at the time she gave her deposition, and didn't you show it to your attorney?"

"That was a check of her mother's, showing where they had overdrawn their money in bank."

"What were you doing with them?" asked Combs, surprised.

"I was cashing them for them in the spring of 1898. I can show them to you if you want them."

"You mean you have them here?"

"Yes, I have part of them; I only have part."

"How did they come in your possession?"

"They were returned to me. I had to put up the money, and I held the checks. There were others at the Bank of Farmers that Mr. Casseday took up; he didn't have the money to take all of them up."

"You mean that these checks were not paid?"

"They were not. They were thrown out."

Combs, in an attempt to refute that statement, said, "I will ask you if both of them do not show on the back that they were paid?"

Barbour responded, "Any check passing through the Clearing House is stamped, then taken to the bank it is drawn on. If it is no good it is returned through the Clearing House, the Clearing House stamp cancelled, and returned to the party that presented it. You will see that the Clearing House stamp is canceled."

"What did she give those checks for?"

"For cash, to be brought out in change."

Changing direction, Combs asked, "This $150 check, you didn't furnish the change on it, did you?"

"Yes, I did. I gave them the money, and afterwards had to get it up; but Mrs. Huber paid it afterwards; it is all right now."

He continued, "She paid it later on when they made the deal with Lewis. All I know is that they paid me back. I am making no claim on that score."

When Mr. Combs asked, "Where did you get the money you advanced Mrs. Huber on these checks?" Barbour at first declined to answer. Then he explained that he did not remember where he got it.

Near the close of his examination, Mr. Combs inquired, "As I understand, Miss Mary Huber owes you, is that it?"

"She does." asserted Barbour.

"How did it happen that you didn't collect it?"

"Because of the trouble they were in. Miss Mary had no money, and was losing money every day on the farm, and it was just sympathy I had for the family. I didn't have the nerve to ask them for anything."

Seizing on Barbour's choice of words, Combs asked, "It was simply a lack of nerve on your part?"

"Not only that: I was talking to Miss Mary in the spring of 1900, just before her marriage; and she said she had no money, and didn't know what she was going to do; and she wanted to know if I would mortgage the west side of the place. I told her I couldn't do that. She said she was going to marry Mr. Hagan, and that he had a good deal of money tied up in a publishing company for books and things he was writing, and he couldn't get the money, and she didn't know where to go to get it unless she went to her uncle, Sam Casseday."

"Well, you could have made the money out of her, couldn't you?"

"I don't see how. I guess if I had pinned them down, or made a fight, her mother would have raised the money, or Mr. Casseday."

Later, on December 10, Mary Hagan was deposed again in Shepherdsville regarding the list of items John Barbour claimed to have paid for the Hubers for which he had not been reimbursed.

Her attorney, Mr. Combs began, "Mrs. Hagan, Mr. Barbour in his deposition in rebuttal speaks of paying Mr. Wayne Caldwell for the building of a house."

She replied, "That was to be taken out of his rent."

"Did you pay for the material that went into the house?"

"I think so. I paid a number of bills."

Turning to Barbour's list, Combs said, "I show you an account, Miss Mary, that he has made out against you, altogether amounting to the sum of $433.87, the first item of which is one Frazier Cart, $45."

"I have furnished him the money to pay for that."

"Another item is 'City breaking one horse colt, named Dennis.' What about that?"

She explained, "He simply told me he would take the colt down and use him at the water company, and city break him. He had charge, I think, of a stable, or something, there; and he said he would take the colt and have him driven there. I never heard of the man whose name is signed to the bill for breaking the horse."

"Did you understand that you were loaning the horse to the water company?"

"Yes sir; that was simply it. I understood that the horse was to be turned over to the water company for them to use."

"Here is an item of $50 for a cream separator; and another item of $22.50, one cow." read Combs.

"First, about the cream separator. I met Mr. Barbour, and asked him about buying it. I was in the habit of giving my money to him as I made it on the farm, and letting him keep it for me, then getting him to pay my bills. When I asked him about it he said I had $50, about $50; so I sent my brother-in-law, R.G. Matherson, to get the $50 from Mr. Barbour, and paid cash for the separator."

Combs continued, "Here is an item of $22.50 for a cow."

"Yes. I furnished him the money to pay for that cow. He had at the time about $66 of mine."

He continued, "Another item, $49 paid Pete Smith for stock. What about that?"

"That was paid for with money furnished him by my mother."

Combs identified several items including two dollars paid to Will Johnson, five dollars to Dr. Dabney, and $7.17 paid to Ewing among others, and asked how those were paid. Her response in each case was that the payment was to come out of her butter money.

"How about this: 'One second-handed phaeton, $25.'" asked Combs.

"I gave him the money that came from one of the Lewis notes to pay for that."

"What was the amount of those notes, Miss Mary?"

"I don't remember exactly. He paid three hundred and some odd dollars cash, and that would leave – it must have been more than $1000."

"Did Barbour discount those notes?"

"Yes. If that was the correct amount of cash paid. I don't remember just what the notes were. There were two notes, I think, of six hundred and some odd dollars each; I can't be sure about the amount."

As noted earlier, the deed for the Lewis property quoted an initial cash payment of $1,100, and three notes, each for $466.67, although Lewis himself said the initial payment was actually less.

Combs continued to list items including a milk can, and a $4.80 payment to Lewis & Chambers; and she claimed they were paid out of her butter money. When he came to a patent churn, she replied, "That was a present to me, I understood, from Mr. Barbour. It was a second-hand churn."

Combs identified three checks: $30.00; $7.40; and $11.00; and she said, "These three checks were to come out of the money – you see, he claimed that he had this money out in interest, something over $300, and that gave me 10% interest, something over $30 a month; and he said as fast as this interest came in he reinvested that so that I would get compound interest, and that when the time came he would turn me over a large sum of money."

"Do you mean 10% a month?"

"Yes, 10% a month. He claimed that he got that percent by lending out small sums to the employees of the water company; and these checks were to come out of the interest money, not out of my principal at all – simply out of the monthly interest. You will notice in asking for money I would ask for $30 frequently; that is the way it happened."

Combs pointed to another item and asked, "Here is a check for $100. What about that?"

"I never got the money."

"I see the check bears your endorsement."

"Yes. He told me to endorse the check, and he would bring me the money. He said he couldn't collect the money, that he had to give a longer notice, a 30 days notice."

"And you actually did not receive a cent on that check?"

"Not on that $100; not a cent." she insisted.

Later, to refute Barbour's statement on the value of the passway land, Combs inquired, "Mr. Barbour in his deposition says you sold Mr. Lewis some land across the road from his passway, within 50 feet of his passway, at $17.50 an acre. I will ask you whether or not a part of the land sold to Mr. Lewis does not run back and extend into the knobs?"

"Yes sir; a great deal of it runs back into the knobs. That isn't anything like as good land as I sold to Mr. Barbour. A good deal of it is knob land, uncleared, and grown up entirely in weeds and brushes and trees of all kinds. There was only about 10 acres of cleared land."

Combs concluded his questioning by asking about her half-sister, Harriet Huber. "Miss Mary, where is your sister, Miss Harriet, who was with your mother at the depot at the time this deed was acknowledged by her, in Louisville?"

"At a sanitarium in Oxford, Ohio, being treated for nervous prostration. She has been there since July."

While it is not clear the intent of this question, it does tell us who was with Henrietta Huber when she signed the deed and lien notes at the train station. It may also suggest why the sister was not deposed in this case.

John Barbour would be deposed one more time on February 7, 1903 in rebuttal to statements made by Mary Hagan. By that time "unfriendliness" had grown into hatred between the two families, and almost everyone in the neighborhood was taking sides. The depot at Huber's Station saw each side deliberately ignore the other when forced together on daily trips to Louisville and back. As we've already noted, John Barbour took to traveling in the baggage car, at least partly to avoid contact with Francis Hagan.

In his final deposition, John Barbour was asked, "Mrs. Hagan states that Wayne Caldwell, for building a house on the place, was paid out of the rent money; is that correct or not?"

"That is a mistake. I paid him myself, she had nothing to do with it; I hold receipts from him."

His attorney, Mr. Carroll, then asked, "To whom was the rent money paid?"

"Paid it to Mrs. Huber. Etta Huber and Mary Huber were present at the time."

"Who is Etta Huber?"

"She is now Mrs. Gordon Matheson, Mary Hagan's sister. She lives at Gate City, Virginia."

"Mrs. Hagan states in her deposition she paid for the material that went into that house; is that correct or not?"

"No sir, she did not. I paid for every dollar." insisted Barbour.

"She also states in her deposition that she furnished $45 to pay for the Frazier cart; who furnished that money, who bought that cart?

"I did with my money; I filed my receipt for it." Barbour replied tersely.

"She says that she understood that there would be no charge for breaking the colt named Dennis, and that she was loaning the horse to the Water Company; what about that charge for breaking the colt?"

"She told me to have the colt broken and she would pay for it. Also gave me an order to get him a rubber bit, he had a tender mouth, and I did, and I paid for it myself, $15 for the breaking of that colt."

Carroll continued, "About loaning the horse to the Water Company?"

"The Water Company never borrowed horses, or nothing else." was his terse reply.

"Did you ever represent to her that the horse was to be loaned to the water company?"

"Never heard of it."

"She says that she loaned you or gave you the money, $50, to buy a cream separator, that you had that much money of hers that she made on the farm, is that correct or not?"

"That is not correct; she said she wanted to buy a separator, and asked me if I could raise for the amount, something like $125; I told her I could not, but I would let her have $50. She sent Gordon Matthews there after it, and he got it. It was my money."

"She said that she furnished you the money to pay for a cow $22.50; is that correct or not?"

"No sir, it is not; I paid for it myself. At her request."

"She says that her mother furnished you the $49 paid to Pete Smith for stock; did her mother or anyone else furnish you that money?"

"Not a dollar to pay anything for her."

In rapid-fire, Carroll asked about the payment to Dr. Dabney, the twelve dollars for milk cans, and the $7.17 listed on his statement. In each case, Barbour insisted that he paid each one out of his own money.

When Carroll asked about the account of Lewis Nord that Mary Hagan had said came out of her butter money, Barbour replied, "I paid that; she overdrew her butter account all the time."

"She says you always gave her the money due on the butter account less the amount of any bills you paid; did you ever pay any bills for her out of the butter account?"

"Not out of the butter account. I would let Edward Huber have money out of the butter account and a fellow by the name of Franz who used to work for her."

"She says she gave you the money that came from one of Lewis' notes to pay for a second-hand phaeton; what about that?"

"I never saw any of the Lewis money, I paid for that phaeton."

"Did you sell the Lewis notes for her?" inquired Carroll.

"I did." admitted Barbour.

"Did you receive any portion of the money on them?"

"Not a dollar; I never saw a dollar."

"Where did the money go?"

"It went to her credit in the Louisville Trust Company. Mr. Henry, the discount man, took the notes, discounted them and placed them to her credit; I never saw a dollar of the money."

"She says that a charge for one of these milk cans is correct but that came out of the butter money; did any of those items come out of the butter money that you have charged?"

"No sir." was Barbour's reply.

"She says that the patent churn was a present from you, is that true?"

That is not true. I bought the patent churn at her request. They went to the depot and hauled the churn to their house through mistake, it ought to have went to me; they said they wanted one and I had two; it was a second-hand churn. She said she would like to have it and would pay me what it was worth; I told her all right, and I charged it to her account."

Next Carroll wanted to know, "Now she says that you borrowed money of hers, something over $300, and that you gave her 10% interest on that; what about that?"

Up until now, Barbour had been somewhat vague about this matter, but now he responded, "That is a mistake, all of it; when I first knew her the first year I met her – that was somewhere around, I couldn't say what year, 1894 or 1895, 1895, I think, we had a transaction there that we would get 3% a month – it didn't run 10 months; a statement in full was delivered to her on that; she has that statement."

"She says that you claimed you got 10% a month by loaning small sums to employees of the Water Company?"

"I never loaned a dollar to employees of the Water Company."

"Did you so represent to her?" asked Carroll, seeking to clarify the point.

"No sir." insisted Barbour.

"She claims that the check for $100, that she never got the money on it; and that the check bears her endorsement, do you know anything about that?"

"I gave her the check and I didn't see it until it came from my bank, went through the clearing house."

"Did you ever have it after it went through your bank, I mean after you gave it to her?"

"I never saw it until it came from the bank."

"Did she endorse the check and did you take it for the purpose of bringing her the money?"

"No sir."

"Did you say you couldn't collect the money, that you had to give longer notice, a 30 days notice before you could collect it?"

"No sir, I don't remember any such thing; I know I did not."

"Now she says that in August, 1899, she gave you $25 to pay McCullough; what about that?"

"She never gave me a dollar; she didn't have a dollar at that time, her mother or her either, after May, 1899."

In his last question, Carroll inquired, "She says that you never demanded payment of this account of yours against her; did you or not?"

"No, we were friends, you know, and I was helping them along all I could. We were the best of friends at that time until I quit speaking to her after her marriage."

This concluded the last of the depositions taken in this case. It would be up to the court to decide. The claims and counterclaims aside, it would be the court's responsibility to examine the evidence to determine if the Barbours had met their financial obligation to Henrietta Huber and her heirs. If so, the land belonged to them; if not it reverted back to Mary Huber Hagan.

To do this, the court had to ignore the extraneous claims by both sides, and focus on the facts related to the land purchase itself. The court would make a decision at its March term.

Before that could happen, however, things took an apparently violent turn that landed both sides in criminal court.


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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 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: 25 Jan 2019 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/murder/murder-6.html