Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Charged With Assault: Bedside Trial of Oliver M. Wallen

My great grandfather, Oliver Morton Wallen died in 1907 when he was just a young man of 37 years. Oliver was a farmer, a school teacher, and a Baptist Minister. He was considered by the locals as "one of the town's nice young men." From Oliver's diary it is easy to see that he was mild mannered, gentle, and compassionate. However, there were two or three incidents that proved he could be somewhat indignant over personal injustices...

On October 22, 1901 Oliver made this brief entry in his diary: "Had some trouble with J. G. Larkins Oct. 22, he quit school." Then we hear nothing about this incident until the day of Oliver's trial over this "trouble", approximately 6 weeks later. During this period, Oliver was thrown from his horse which resulted in a painful injury to his hip. This is the diary transcription of what took place starting with the day of the scheduled trial.

Dec. 9 [1901]  – My trial with John Larkins is set for today at Woodstock, Ky. I am in bed and not able to go. My Att. R. G. Williams offers to go into trial without me but they will not. Mr. Larkins is a very selfish man and John a very mean boy, they want to give me all the trouble they can when they know they are doing wrong. May God forgive them. A very rainy day. 

Dec. 10 – Sit up a little but not any better. 

Dec. 11 – Sit up some but still very sore. 

Dec. 12 – Bro. Lee Reynolds and Rila Reynolds brought me a load of lumber. I am still very lame and sore. 

Dec. 13, 14 – In bed most of the time. My hip is hurting me a great deal.

Dec. 15  – Sunday. I am not able to go any where. Several came to see me. 

Dec. 16 – In bed most of the day. 

Dec. 17 – A very cold day. I was tried at my home on the bed sick, for an assault upon one of my pupils John G. Larkins said to have been done Oct. 22, 1901. John Larkins disputed my word and I had to use harsh means to make him hush. He is a very bad boy and wants to give me all the trouble he can. J. N. Thompson has had a great deal to do in urging the thing on. He is a base hyppocrit pretending to be a Christian when his walks show that he is a vile son of Satan. He hates me because I would not lie for him when he got drunk. God will give all such men a just and honest judgement. All men will see who is wright and who is wrong. The jury promptly acquitted me, saying that I ought to have whipped John Larkins. My Att. R. G. Williams, of Rockcastle Co., very ably and eloquently showed the jury that I had been very badly treated and that it was nothing but malice that made them do what they did. He and papa eat dinner at my home. I think Messers Larkin and Thompson went home wiser and it is hoped better men from this days experience for the public was certainly very hard down on them for the way they treated me.   

The local newspaper for Rockcastle Co., Kentucky, the Mt. Vernon Signal, had long been transcribed from micro fiche by a fellow genealogist and placed on the county web site and I have not only had access to the transcription but I copied the entire thing (over 1000 pages 1887 - 1941) to my hard drive and over the years have studied it at my leisure. I never found anything about this trial due to the fact that most of 1901 was missing. The Mt. Vernon Signal newspaper is now online at two other places, The Library of Congress and The Kentuckiana Digital Library and I have found additional pages that were missing from the transcribed version. I am also able to view wonderful ads that could not be seen in the transcribed version that give additional clues to many of those local friends, neighbors and family members I've come to know so well! With a quick scan of these two newspaper holdings I was able to find a small piece on this trial at both sites this week.  

Mt. Vernon Signal Newspaper article December 20, 1901
I have often found newspaper articles that back up the information from entries in Oliver's Diary. This one was long coming.

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