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The county judge, when at home, was obliged to disguise himself as a woman to prevent the assassins from shooting him down
reprinted from...
The Louisville Courier-Journal, June 28, 1895

Six Murders Acknowledged By "Bad Tom" Smith 

Smith's Bloody Record Some Of The Crimes He Is Known To Have Committed
 
"Bad Tom" Smith, 1890sJackson, Ky.,  -- The history of Tom Smith's crimes, those he is known to have committed and those charged to him, reads like a chapter from the blood curdling border novel. He began his career of crime when a boy, by stealing nearly everything he could get his hands on. When only 20 years old, 11 years ago, he engaged in a terrible fight at Hazard, the county seat of Perry County, one election day. Several of his friends were being fired upon, and he rushed to their assistance with no weapon but stones. Knocking down one of his adversaries, he took his gun away from him and shot several of the parties, wounding them dangerously. Soon after this he stole a horse from Joe Eversole's brother-in-law, and, as the Eversoles prosecuted him for this crime, he became their bitter enemy and joined the French faction. After getting cleared of horse stealing by false swearing on the part of his friends, he held up James Davidson, another Eversole man, and robbed him of his watch.

Davidson tried to bring him to justice, but failed, and shortly afterward his mother's house was set on fire, and it burned down; Tom Smith being regarded as the incendiary. From this time on he was the principal leader of the French faction in the noted Perry County feud. In 1887, he was accused of killing Joe Hurt, and a year later he and three Confederates waylaid Joe Eversole and shot him to death. Nicholas Combs, a young man who was riding along with Eversole, was also struck by the volley that came from the bushes and was fatally wounded. Smith robbed the dead body of Eversole, and was in the act of robbing Combs when the latter, regaining consciousness, asked him why he shot them. Smith answered by shooting the boy through the temples, killing him instantly, saying as he pulled the trigger that he could not afford to leave any living witnesses. Smith was tried for these crimes before a magistrate, but having threatened the witnesses with death should they appear against him, there was no evidence to convict him, and he was released.

The next man to fall under Smith's unerring aim was Shade Combs, who was killed while standing in his own yard, surrounded by his little children. Smith was arrested, together with several accomplices, but again justice miscarried and he went unpunished. Some time after this Tom and his brother, Bill, hid in a cellar of a house in Hindman, Knott County, and in daylight shot Ambrose Amburgy, an Eversole man. That fall the grand jury returned a number of indictments against Smith for his various crimes, but before they could be tried Smith and several friends one dark night set fire to the Perry County courthouse, and it was burned to the ground, destroying all official records of his crimes. He was indicted for this crime, but was never tried. After the courthouse was burned Smith and is henchmen became a terror to the inhabitants of Perry County, who were opposed to his lawlessness, and many of them who had been outspoken against him were compelled to flee the county in order to save their lives. The county judge, when at home, was obliged to disguise himself as a woman to prevent the assassins from shooting him down. 

Ira Davidson, brother-in-law of Joe Eversole, was the circuit clerk, and he had to flee the county because Tom Smith threatened to kill him. Abner Eversole, the county school superintendent, had to leave to avoid assassination. In fact, all the friends of Eversole were driven out of the county by threats. Robin Cornett paid no attention to these threats, and one day, while cutting timber near his house, Tom Smith and two companions shot him to death from the brush. The grand jury indicted Smith for this murder, but the case was put off from court to court, and Smith finally forfeited his bond, which proved to be a straw affair. In the fall of 1889, while the Perry County Circuit Court was in session, the French and Eversole clans met at Hazard. For several days each party watched the other, and there were no hostilities. Finally Wesley Whitaker, one of the Eversole's followers, and Henry Davidson, one of the French's men, became involved in a dispute. Davidson ran into Jesse Field's house, from which he fired on Whitaker. 

The fight then became general, and that night the French forces were re-enforced, and for 18 hours the battle raged. Although, nearly 2,000 shots in all were fired, the amount of carnage was very small, only two men, "Jake" McKnight and "Ed" Campbell, being killed. McKnight fell from a bullet fired by "Tom" Smith, as he afterward confessed. In this long fight the French faction never lost a man, nor was any of them wounded. Circuit Judge Hurst, who had been holding court, was told by Smith and his men, that he would be killed if he did not leave town within five minutes. The judge left. The governor had to send militia to Hazard in order that court might be held. For the part he took in this fight, Smith was indicted, and the case removed to Pineville, where he was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to the penitentiary for life. The Courts of Appeals reversed the decision, and the case was never tried again. 

Smith then went to Breathitt County, where he became acquainted with Mrs. Catherine McQuinn, whose husband is incarcerated in the Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. Mrs. McQuinn also has a history. One of Day Brothers' clerks at Jackson became infatuated with her and she with him. Their love was discovered by McQuinn, and he became a raving maniac, and had to be sent to the asylum. This so preyed on the mind of the young man who destroyed McQuinn's home that he committed suicide. Being kindred spirits, Smith and Mrs. McQuinn were soon in love with each other, and he lived with her a his wife, although he had a wife and two children in Perry County. When asked why he left his wife, Smith said to me: "She took up for the Eversoles and I had to leave her." Early in last January, Smith complained to Dr. Rader, who was the leading physician of Jackson, that he was affected with something like fits. 

He told the doctor that he wanted him to come to the McQuinn house, some four miles from Jackson, and stay there all night, so that he could watch his symptoms. Rader finally agreed to go, and one night he took a gallon jug of whiskey and went to the McQuinn house. Rader had not touched a drop of liquor for many months, and he was soon very drunk after arriving there that night. Smith also got drunk, while Mrs. McQuinn was considerably under the influence of the liquor. 

The next morning Dr. Rader's body was found in the bed of the McQuinn house, with a bullet hole through the heart. Smith and Mrs. McQuinn were arrested and tried for the crime. Dr. Rader had a number of warm friends, and they prosecuted the case vigorously. The speech of Commonwealth Attorney Col. Alfred Howard, of Salyersville, was a powerful and scathing arraignment, and the jury quickly brought in a verdict of guilty, and recommended that the punishment should be death. Mrs. McQuinn was tried immediately after, and, as in Smith's case, the jury returned a verdict of guilty, and fixed her punishment at imprisonment in the penitentiary for life. Kentucky.

 

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