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.

Final Encounter - August 11, 1904

The small community surrounding Huber's Station was typically quiet on this late Thursday afternoon. The train from Louisville would soon arrive, bringing with it several local folks who worked in Louisville.

John Barbour sat on a crate in the baggage car as the train rolled south. George James, a friend and insurance agent who was on his way to sell some insurance to Barbour's sister, sat across from him. Barbour often rode in the baggage car to spend time with friends he'd made while working as a railroad clerk.

Besides the baggage car, the train included two passenger cars, one for ladies and gents who didn't smoke, and one for the men who did. Most men, unless they were traveling with their wives, occupied the smoker car. Today these included Samuel Casseday and Francis J. Hagan, who would disembark at Huber's Station. Others included Captain Robert Tyler of the Internal Revenue Service; E. C. Bohne, a Louisville banker; and his son Ferdinand Bohne, an architect; Barrett Gibson, a lawyer; Clarence L. Croan, a local farmer; and William Troutwine, a livestock trader.

Daniel J. Brumley, roadmaster for the Louisville & Nashville railroad, joined the train south of the Tenth Street depot, and rode on the last car's rear platform.

Meanwhile at Huber's Station, William Hall crossed the railroad tracks from the depot to the shade of a beckoning tree. His work on John Barbour's chimney had taken longer than expected, and he'd missed the northbound train a few minutes earlier. He planned to take the next southbound train to Shepherdsville where he could catch the express from there to Louisville.

Nearby, Philip Smithers, baggage master at Huber's Station, busied himself at the little store that doubled as the local post office. His sister Sue Smithers, the postmistress, waited idly at her mail window, watching for the train from Louisville which was a bit overdue.

Also watching for the train were Lillian Lewis and Julia White. Both stood on or near Mrs. Lewis' porch. Her house stood across the tracks from the depot. Lillian was expecting Mr. James to arrive with her brother, John Barbour. She knew her brother was bringing the insurance agent to see her, and also that they expected Mr. Brumley to arrive too, since he was considering buying some land from her.

Others waiting for the train included Paul Crosby who did odd jobs in the neighborhood, and young Sam Casseday who stood beside his father's horse and buggy. His father was bringing Francis Hagan home to stay with them while he concluded some business dealings before returning to Alabama.

As the train slowed its approach to Huber's Station, Daniel Brumley stepped off the west side of the rear platform and headed south toward the locomotive. John Barbour moved out onto the steps at the rear of the baggage car and stepped off just before the train came to a halt.

Barbour started northward toward the path to his home, but when he spotted Brumley heading toward him, he stopped to wait for him. The men met by the baggage car, and stopped to shake hands. Meanwhile, Samuel Casseday exited the rear steps from the the smoker's car and moved quickly northward toward his waiting buggy. Francis Hagan, having gathered his suit case, exited a few steps behind Casseday, planning to follow him to the buggy.

Then shots rang out, and chaos erupted. Both Casseday and Brumley turned toward the sound of gunfire. All of the train's westward windows filled with faces anxious to see what was happening. Their later descriptions of what they saw would vary and conflict on many points, but all witnessed Barbour firing his pistol at Hagan until Hagan fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

The details of this shooting would be told in considerable detail in the Louisville newspapers in the days that followed.

Brainard Platt, a young newspaper reporter for The Courier-Journal, took Barbour's statement which was published the next morning.

According to Platt, Barbour stated, "I left Louisville on the Bardstown train which leaves here at 4:10 p.m. to keep an appointment at 4:20 with Mr. Brumley of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, who was to meet me at Huber's Station.

"When I got on the train at Tenth street station I got into the baggage car. I was a railroader with the Louisville and Nashville for twelve years before I went with the water company, and I know most of the men who run on that line and ride in the baggage car a great deal on my trips to and from my work in Louisville. I had no idea that Hagan was in the State, let alone on the train. When the train stopped at Huber's Station I left the baggage car by the steps. This put me about the middle of the station platform. I was standing at the point where I left the car awaiting Mr. Brumley, who was coming toward me from the rear of the train. This was something of a surprise to me, because I expected that he would be at Huber's when I got there. I learned later that he got on the train at a point outside of Louisville, but I did not know this at the time, since I did not leave the baggage car from the time I boarded the train at Louisville until I left it at my home station.

"As Mr. Brumley came toward me and shook hands I noticed Hagan walking behind him and toward me. He had his eyes on me and I noticed that he shifted something from his right hand to his left and then he went toward his back pocket. He was only about ten feet from me then and I thought he was getting ready to shoot me. I had a newspaper rolled up in my left hand and I threw this up and was so close to him that the paper touched his hat. At the same time I drew my pistol. Just as I was about to fire the shot I noticed a woman in the line of fire behind Hagan. I shot into the air for fear of striking her, and as I did so Hagan dodged toward Brumley. The second shot I fired Hagan was turning, and I heard him yell. I fired again as he turned. Then I felt a stone strike me in the back of the neck and another in the back of the body. It was about this time that I fired the fourth shot. Hagan tottered and fell.

"When Hagan fell I ceased firing, and turned to Samuel Casseday, who is an uncle of Hagan's by marriage, and who was the one who had assaulted me with the stones.

"He stood with his hand raised about to hurl another stone, which he did. Then I walked up to Hagan and said something to him about being a scoundrel, a midnight assassin. I don't remember exactly what.

"I carried the pistol to the telephone where I went to call up Jailer Jones at Shepherdsville, to whom I surrendered myself.

"I have accounted for four shots, but I may have fired more. I haven't a clear recollection of how many shots there were. The pistol is an automatic one, and when a man begins to shoot it is difficult to count the shots. The pistol itself will show how many were fired."

Barbour would later dispute making some of these statements.

Hagan, who had been moved to the Gray Street Infirmary in Louisville, learned on Friday that he would not survive his wounds.

Because he was too weak to write a statement, several witnesses, including his brother Robert J. Hagan, were called in to hear his dying declaration of what happened at Huber's Station. Robert Hagan shared the statement with the newspaper, and it was printed in Saturday's paper.

"This is the most cold-blooded assassination. It is without justification or excuse of any kind. I did not even know Barbour was at the station when the shot struck me, and I turned and saw him fire the second, third and fourth shots at me. This is the third attempt made upon my life, and he has at last been successful.

"I was on the train going to Huber's Station, where I had a business engagement, and did not know Barbour was on the train. When I got off at the station, together with Mr. Casseday, who was a few feet in front of me, we walked toward his carriage. I was carrying a dressing case in my right hand, and even had I been armed, I could not have used any weapon with the suitcase in my hand. We had almost reached the buggy, when I heard a shot and felt a stinging sensation in my back. I turned and saw Barbour firing at me and fell to the platform as he fired the last three shots.

"I have no desire for revenge, but simply want the world to know the truth, and to know that neither on this occasion nor on any other, when Barbour gave out the statements that I had fired on him, was I guilty as charged by him. I have tried to live as a peaceful, law-abiding citizen, and have endeavored to keep out of trouble with him. He has tormented my life, and my poor wife was afraid to leave her home lest she herself should be made the victim of his cowardly malice."

The newspaper, eager to report this sensational story, interviewed five witnesses including Samuel Casseday, president of the Bank of Commerce and an uncle by marriage of Hagan; his son, Samuel B. Casseday; Clarence L. Croan of Shepherdsville, Hagan's personal friend; William Troutwine, also of Shepherdsville; and Captain Robert Tyler, and reported on their comments in the first issue following the shooting.

According to the paper, Samuel Casseday said: "Hagan did not know that Barbour was near. He left the train and started with me, I being a few feet in advance, to my carriage to go to my home. A shot was fired and we looked and saw Barbour approaching with revolver raised, twelve feet away. The bullet entered Hagan's left hip from the rear. Another shot followed, and it went through a grip sack which was in his left hand. Another passed through his left wrist, shattering the bone. Hagan fell, and as he did so I picked up a rock. I threw it, and it struck Barbour on the left side of the neck, partly on the shoulder, felling him to the ground. I had been five feet, more or less, in advance of Hagan. Barbour got up and threatened to shoot me too, and I told him to shoot."

Clarence L. Croan said he saw the trouble as the train pulled out from the station. "I tried to jump off the train to return to the station, but we were moving too rapidly. I saw Barbour shooting and Hagan appearing to be defenseless. The first shot was fired while his back was turned. After the third shot I saw Mr. Casseday hurl a stone at Barbour with all his might, striking Barbour on the left side of the neck and felling him to the ground. Barbour jumped to his feet and said: 'I'll shoot you too.' Mr. Casseday looked him straight in the eye and coolly said, 'shoot.'

"The train had then moved away, but as soon as I reached Shepherdsville I started back to Huber's Station, and when I got there I made a thorough inspection of Hagan's body. He was absolutely unarmed and had not even a penknife. Of course, it was possible for a weapon to have been removed, but there was no indication at any time that he was armed."

The newspaper summarized the statements of Troutwine and young Samuel B. Casseday this way:

"William Troutwine, who says he was in the same coach with Hagan, says as the train reached Huber's station he saw Barbour running along the path just outside peering into the coach as if looking for somebody. His story of the shooting is identical with that of Samuel Casseday. The statement of Samuel B. Casseday also coincides with that of his father, all agreeing that Mr. Casseday was about five feet in advance of Hagan, who was making his way to the Casseday carriage, and in ignorance of the presence of Barbour."

Tyler, a deputy in the Internal Revenue Service, witnessed the shooting from his seat in a coach. He stated that when he reached Hagan's side, Hagan said, "I had not said a word to Barbour and he had not said a word to me. I did not know he was in Bullitt County."

Tyler also said: "I saw Hagan get off the train and start to follow Sam Casseday. I saw Barbour fire four shots, the first striking Hagan in the hip in the rear. His back was turned as Barbour was shooting. I say that positively. There were four shots fired. I saw Hagan fall. I saw Mr. Casseday throw a stone, and then the train carried me too far to see anything more. As soon as I got to Shepherdsville I started back to Huber's, and, bending over Hagan, I heard him utter the words I quoted. It was an unjustified shooting. We gave Hagan such assistance as we could, and finally got him to Mr. Casseday's home. The bullet which passed through his intestines evidently fell out on the bed after we got to the Casseday home. Mrs. Barret Gibson found it on the bed. It is a bullet from a 38-caliber revolver, and the steel jacket is badly mutilated."

To understand how this animosity arose between Barbour and Hagan we need to step back more than a decade and examine the events around Huber's Station that played a role in bringing these men to this violent end.

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: 28 Jan 2021 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/murder/murder-1.html