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.
John Barbour's victories in both civil and criminal court have been documented in these pages. You, the reader, are left to decide if justice was truly served.
Throughout this book I have tried to remain impartial, providing the evidence and testimony that is available. Now I will offer some possible scenarios for you to consider. Let's begin with the early relationships between the Barbours and the Hubers.
Mary Huber Hagan claimed that she had turned over a large amount of money to John Barbour to invest for her at a significant rate of interest; and that he took her money without returning either the principal or the interest to her. Barbour insisted that this never happened.
Was she fabricating this story to cast Barbour in an unfavorable light, or did John Barbour take advantage of two gullible women whose greed allowed them to be taken in by a con man? Another point to consider: if Mary did fabricate the story, was her husband a willing partner in this; or did she dupe him into believing it too?
The Court of Appeals ruled that the evidence showed that the Barbours had met their financial obligations, and were entitled to the possession of the land purchased from Henrietta Huber. This despite the Hagans' claim that no payment at all had been made.
Did John Barbour put together a financial house of cards by piecing together many unrelated purchases and payments in his claim of having met the land purchase costs by paying off debts owed by the Hubers? Or, did Mary Hagan, with or without the aid of her husband, take advantage of Barbour's willingness to aid her and her mother with their obligations to steal back the land that the Barbours had honestly purchased?
John Barbour claimed that he had been ambushed on that rainy night in February 1903, and that he recognized Kinchloe Jones and Francis Hagan among his attackers. Hagan claimed that he had been fired upon by someone, and had returned fire with his shotgun; only learning afterward that his attacker was John Barbour. Hagan further claimed that he was alone, while Barbour claimed that others fired at him as well.
Did Hagan, Jones, and perhaps others lie in wait for Barbour with the intent of killing him; or did Barbour shoot first at Hagan, and then make up a story after he discovered he and his horse had been wounded?
Given that the hung jury favored a guilty verdict for Hagan in the alleged ambush, which suggests that Barbour was believed by more people, did Hagan agree to both drop the charge against Barbour and to leave the state in exchange for not having to face a second trial? Or, did Hagan leave the state because he feared possible attacks by Barbour if he didn't?
Did Francis Hagan try to persuade Hugh Downey to kill Barbour in exchange for a house and land, with the expectation that Downey would not be believed if he talked about it; or did Barbour find a willing conspirator in Downey who could be paid to lie?
On the day of the shooting at Huber's Station depot, did Francis Hagan turn northward away from the approaching Barbour when he exited the train; or did he turn southward and walk directly toward Barbour? Was he shot in the back on the first shot, not knowing that Barbour was there; or was he shot in the back on a later shot, after he turned to run away? John Barbour's plea of self-defense hangs in the balance.
Given that a wide variety of influential men from Louisville and Bullitt County testified to Barbour's good character, and that he retained his employment with the water company both during and following his acquittal, was he truly a good man caught up in a terrible dilemma, or was he a liar, cheat, and murderer who managed to fool all these people?
In the end, the jury believed that John Barbour shot Francis Hagan in self-defense. Do you?
The following tidbits of information are shared as a matter of historical interest. They represent some of what we have learned about the lives of some of the participants in this story.
John and Clara Barbour continued to own their property at Huber's Station until 1915 when they sold it to John A. McDowell. The 1910 census had them living on East Jacob Street in Louisville, but they likely maintained their summer home in Bullitt County.
Their eldest daughter, Virginia Barbour, died in 1911 of uremic poisoning. She was 18.
Their daughter, Mary Jane Barbour, moved to New York City where she met and married John Rozet Drexel, Jr. She was his second wife, and they had two children: David Pendleton and Jane Barbour Drexel. John Drexel died in 1936. Mary Jane lived until 1982.
John and Clara's only son, Barrett Barbour, lived a long life, dying in Nelson County, Kentucky in 1985. He had three daughters by his first wife, and two sons by his second wife.
Claire Jean Barbour, John and Clara's next daughter, married Harry Grinstead. They were living in Bradenton, Florida at their deaths in the 1970's.
The next daughter, Mildred Bullitt Barbour, married William Merrion Crane Jr. in Massachusetts in 1931. Their daughter Barbara married Jacob F. Brown II. Mildred died in 1974 and William followed in 1989. They lived in Connecticut.
John and Clara's last child was Patricia Stewart Barbour, who was born just before her father's second trial. She married Benjamin Hardy Wellons Jr. and they had four daughters. Benjamin died in Florida in 1975; Patricia lived until 1994.
John and Clara lived until 1944, when he died in May and she followed in September.
After the trial was over, Mary Hagan returned to Montgomery, Alabama where she ran the farm Francis Hagan had left her. She was successful at it, producing several prize-winning livestock.
She made occasional trips back to Louisville to visit relatives, including one in October 1909 to visit L. C. Huber.
By 1920, she had been joined on the farm by Franz Rubi, her Swiss farmhand from her days at Huber's Station. He was still working for her in the 1930 census.
Mary Hagan died in Montgomery on April 1, 1936. She never remarried.
Captain Frank Hagan died in Louisville on March 28, 1909, still mourning his son's death.
Robert and Mary Hagan were the parents of two children: Florida Franconia Hagan, and Jasper Hagan. Robert continued in his profession in Louisville. He lived until 1961.
Samuel Casseday continued to live in his Huber's Station home until his death in December 1914. His son, Samuel Jr., married Sue Brown in 1912 in Davidson County, Tennessee. They later moved to Massachusetts where he died prior to 1920. He and Sue had a daughter they named Mignon Brown Casseday.
Judge William Carroll died of pneumonia at his home at New Castle in March 1909.
Charles Carroll, who was born in Oldham County to Anthony and Elizabeth Carroll, married Ida B. Troutman. They were the parents of the well-known Bullitt County attorney, T. C. Carroll. Charles Carroll died in Bullitt County in 1928.
William F. Ingram, the water company treasurer and notary public who witnessed Henrietta Huber signing the deed and lien notes, left the water company and moved to Tucson, Arizona as auditor of the Arizona and New Mexico lines of the Southern Pacific railroad. Then in 1908 he was made assistant auditor of the Pacific system. In 1914 he became assistant treasurer. Then, during World War I, he was Federal Treasurer of the Southern Pacific Railroad (north and south of Ashland) and the Arizona Eastern Railroad. Ingram died in Berkeley, California in 1924 following an appendix operation.
Mattie Black Tucker, the school teacher who bought the two lien notes endorsed by Henrietta Huber, was a widow of James Henry Tucker who died in 1881. They were the parents of Linnie Tucker who married Clark Campbell Hyatt of Detroit. Mrs. Tucker appears to have been a wise investor who used the services of Harry L. Means as her attorney.
Mr. Means was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and his early career was as a newspaper reporter and writer. He later obtained his law degree and moved his office to Louisville.
All of the collected source material for this book may be found at the Bullitt County History Museum, located in the Courthouse in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
Researchers may also use the microfilmed copies of various Louisville newspapers which are located at the Louisville Free Public Library on York Street in Louisville, Kentucky. Additional newspaper articles from the Bullitt Pioneer are on microfilm at the Ridgway Memorial Library in Shepherdsville. Also, additional newspapers are available online at the Kentuckiana Digital Library at this address.
Transcripts of the civil case, including the depositions, are available both at the Bullitt County History Museum, and at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives in Frankfort. Assorted documents regarding the murder trial are also there.
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.