Anderson County KYGenWeb Project
Newspaper Articles

While perusing the Kentucky Newspaper Archive for news of Moore & Searcy ancestors, I ran across this story line. The victim is J. Newton Searcy, son of Ibzan and Nancy Hart (or Holt) Searcy, grandson of Squire and Susan Speake Searcy, and great grandson of Richard and Rebecca Doyle Searcy of Anderson County, Kentucky.

Newton, born in 7 December 1861 in Washington County, Kentucky and was married 13 April 1890 to Martha E. Strutton in Anderson County, Kentucky. Martha was the daughter of Isaac and Mildred Strutton. I have four children for Newton and Martha: Walter John; Joseph H; Hester; and Minnie Clyda.

My husband is great grandson of Elijah Avery Moore, son of Henry Harrison Moore and Susan Rebecca Searcy Moore. His Searcy ancestors came from Anderson County and his Moore ancestors from Boyle.
Months ago I found the Kentuckiana Digital Newspaper Archive (online) and have enjoyed reading the newspapers as a treat. I keep an eye open for Moore and Searcy and as I said in the previous contact, I stumbled across J. Newton Searcy. Newton and Elijah would have ancestors in common. I began by plucking articles and sources as I went, then stopped and did nothing but follow the story. I still disagree with the handling of the murder, but present day, we do no differently in our disposition of murder cases.

Feel free to post the entire collection on the Anderson page, with the inclusion of the Springfield Interior Journal article (this article was found sometime after the others). This will be of great help for many reasons. I found a girl looking for the Searcy family in the 1900 census; asking if she had the misspelling of the surname Strutton for Martha E., and were the children Searcys or Struttons. If Newton was waiting for Martha & Leroy's divorce to go through; if they were attending the August session of circuit court; her divorce may have only been final that day. If Newton was murdered, they may not have married yet and those children would be Leroy's, therefore her subsequent census listings would be as a Strutton. The story I sent could have had THE END as the last entry, but with the questions above, it is only the beginning.

Jacqueline Daffron

Murder of Joseph Newton Searcy
August of 1900
Courthouse Lawn in Anderson County, Kentucky

Springfield Interior Journal, Springfield, Kentucky; Friday, August 31, 1900, page 1
Newt Searcy, who was to have married the wife of Leroy Strutton as soon as she was divorced, was held by Strutton in the courthouse yard at Lawrenceburg and stabbed to death by Holly Strutton.

Article dated 30 November 1900 appears in the Maysville, Kentucky Public Ledger:
Strutton Must Hang. Lawrenceburg, KY.,
—Holly Strutton was on Friday found guilty of the murder of Newton Searcy and sentenced to be hanged. Holly and Leroy Strutton literally cut to pieces Newton Searcy in the court house yard here last August during the session of the circuit court. There was talk of mob violence before the prisoners were removed to Shelbyville for safe keeping. This is the first death penalty ever given by a jury in Anderson County.

Thursday December 13, 1900 in the Central Record, Lancaster, Kentucky:
Holly Strutton is the first white man to be given the death sentence in Anderson county. He was found guilty of murder on Saturday.

25 December 1900 appears in the Central Record of Lancaster, Kentucky:
In the Anderson Circuit Court at Lawrenceburg, Judge Wm. Carroll overruled a motion for a new trial in the case of the Commonwealth vs Holly Strutton, who was recently convicted of the murder of Newton Searcy and given the death penalty. Strutton was sentenced to be hanged on March 15, 1901.

The Adair County News: Wednesday, April 17, 1901:
Holly and Leroy Strutton escaped from the Lawrenceburg jail at night. Holly is under sentence to hang for the murder of Newton Searcy and Leroy was in jail awaiting trial for the same offense. Sheriff Hiatt pursued the criminals and captured Holly Strutton about a mile from town. Leroy was captured by the jailer’s wife as he rushed from his cell. The men struck jailer Sparrow, who was in their cell removing ashes from a stove. He became unconscious from the blow and the prisoners made their break for liberty.

Stanford, Kentucky Interior Journal, Friday April 19, 1901. 9 A.M.
At Lawrenceburg, Leroy Strutton was given a life term for the murder of Newton Searcy.

The Hazel Green Herald, Wolfe County, Kentucky, Thursday April 25, 1901:
At Lawrenceburg, Leroy Strutton was sentenced to the penitentiary for life for the murder of Newton Searcy. Holly Strutton, a brother, was sentenced to be hanged for the same crime at a former trial.

The Central Record, Lancaster, Kentucky, Thursday May 16, 1901:
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of Anderson Circuit Court condemning Leroy Strutton to death for the killing of J.N. Searcy.

Maysville Public Ledger, Tuesday July 2, 1901 page 2:
Death Warrant Signed. Frankfort, Ky., July 2, Gov. Beckham signed Holly Strutton’s death warrant Monday and fixed the day of his execution at August 16. This action does not preclude commutation to life imprisonment if the governor so desires. Holly Strutton is now in jail at Lawrenceburg, Ky. Under sentence of death, for the murder of J. Newton Searcy.

The Quincy Daily Whig, August 15, 1901, Page 6:
Lawrenceburg, Ky. Aug 14. On August 16 Anderson county will have her first legal hanging. Holly Strutton will be hanged for the murder of J. Newton Searcy. An enclosure 20 feet high has been erected in the courthouse yard on the same spot that his victim breathed his last. The scaffold was procured in Lexington. Some of the most noted criminals in the State have been hanged on it.

Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, Kentucky, Thursday August 15, 1901, page 2:
Holly Strutton Respited. Lawrenceburg, KY., Aug.15-Sheriff Hyatt received information from Frankfort Wednesday afternoon at 5:45 o’clock that Holly Strutton, who was to pay the penalty with his life on the gallows here Friday for the murder of Newton Searcy had been granted a respite of 30 days. On receipt of the news he said: “Tell the boys I am very happy and I will never hang if the truth could be known.”

The Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Friday, August 16, 1901:
A Respite: Anderson County Man Convicted of Murder will have thirty days longer to live. Frankfort, KY. August 5, Gov. Beckham yesterday respited for thirty days Holly Strutton, the Anderson county murder, who is under sentence of death and who was to have been hanged at Lawrenceburg Friday at sunrise. The respite was granted on representations made by reputable citizens at Anderson county that they could, if given the time, show mitigating circumstances attending the killing by Strutton of Searcy, which were not brought out at the trial of the case. These matters will be laid before the Governor early next week for his consideration. He has not heard them in detail yet and the action taken today does not mean that the sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment.

Interior Journal, Springfield, Kentucky, Tuesday September 3, 1901 page 2:
Eleven of the jurors in the Holly Strutton case have written to Gov. Beckham saying that their verdict was rendered upon the law and the evidence and that they could not change the verdict, the law and evidence being the same.

Interior Journal, Springfield Kentucky, Tuesday September 10, 1901, Page 2:
Holly Strutton the condemned murder in jail at Lawrenceburg, has addressed a letter to the jury that tried him asking them to call and let him tell them that he made no threats against them.

The Quincy Daily Whig, September 14, 1901, Page 2:
Gov. Beckhan of Kentucky has commuted to life imprisonment the sentence of Holly Strutton who was to have been hanged at Lawrenceburg today for the murder of Newton Searcy.

The Richmond Kentucky Climax, September 18, 1901:
Gov. Beckham commuted the sentence of Holly Strutton, the condemned Anderson county murderer, to imprisonment for the rest of his natural life in the State penitentiary. The commute was granted only after consideration of every phase of the case, and on the recommendation of many good citizens of Anderson and adjoining counties. The Governor took this action because of the youth and rearing of the prisoner, and because he did not believe that the evidence showed sufficient malice or premeditation on the part of the condemned to justify the death penalty.

The Sterling Advocate, Mount Sterling, Kentucky, Tuesday September 20, 1901:
Strutton will not hang: Governor Beckham on Thursday commuted the death sentence of Holly Strutton at Lawrenceburg to life imprisonment. He was to have been hung on August 16, but was respited for 30 days and now goes to prison. Governor Beckham thinks the crime was done in sudden heat of passion.

The Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Tuesday, September 24, 1901:
Gov. Beckham is being severely censured for commuting the death sentence of a murderer named Holly Strutton. The Louisville Critic closes a strong editorial with these words: “When the knife ceases to be the arbiter of every petty dispute; when the pistol ceases to be the court of last resort; when the professional assassin ceases to be regarded as a hero, and when judges, juries, and governors will be found brave enough to do their duty, then, and not until then, will Kentucky take its place among civilized communities.”

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Friday, November 22, 1901:
A Rope for Quinn: A rope which the Sheriff of Anderson county procured for the execution of Holly Strutton, whose punishment afterward commuted to life imprisonment will be used in the execution of Reuben Quinn and the scaffold erected at Lawrenceburg for the hanging of Strutton probably will be secured. The hanging of Quinn will be the first legal execution in Boyle County in thirty years. Quinn, a Boyle County negro was sentenced for the murder of policeman John T. Crum.

Courier-Journal Louisville, Kentucky Thursday morning April 25, 1907:
Shown Useless Gallows: After he was notified that his sentence had been commuted, Brown asked to see the gallows from which he would have been hanged tomorrow but for the intervention of the Governor. He was guarded by Deputy Byers. “Well, they can tear that down now, said the negro, after turning away from looking at the wooden structure: Thank the Lord they won’t have to use that now.” Brown was sentenced to hang for the murder of his mistress some three years ago. He appealed to the higher courts, but the decision of the lower court was sustained. Some time ago the date of his execution was set for April 26, tomorrow. But, for the intervention of the Governor the order of the court would have been carried out. Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph M. Huffaker was practically the only man connected with the prosecution of Brown who refused to sign the petition asking clemency. In a conversation with the Governor by telephone, Mr. Huffaker urged that the sentence be executed. This is the second death penalty Gov. Beckham has commuted to life imprisonment since he went into office. The other beneficiary was Holly Strutton of Anderson county, convicted of murder and who is now an inmate of the prison here.

April 22, 1910 United States Federal Census
1910 United States Federal Census about Holly Strutton

Name: Holly Strutton
Age in 1910: 30
Birth Year: 1880
Birthplace: Kentucky
Home in 1910: Frankfort Ward 2, Franklin, Kentucky
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Prisoner
Marital Status: Single
Father's Birthplace: Kentucky
Mother's Birthplace: Kentucky

The News Leader, Springfield, Washington County, KY June 16, 1910:
Holly and Leroy Strutton Paroled. Attorney M.W. Bartlett and Hon. W.P. Cox, who for the past eighteen months have been laboring earnestly to secure paroles for Holly and Leroy Strutton, serving life sentences for the murder of Newt Searcy in 1900, were successful Tuesday in their efforts before the board of Prison Commissioners, and left with the promise that within thirty days they would be paroled, the action of the Commission in paroling these prisoners meets with general approval by the citizens here, as it is well known that they have both made model prisoners, have embraced religion and it is thought if they are given a chance will make good citizens. The crime for which they were sentenced was committed on Monday, the 27th day of August 1900. It was the first day of the August term of Anderson Circuit Court and Judge Frank Peak then, Commonwealth’s Attorney for this Judicial district, was making a political speech in the Court room. The crime was committed in the court house yard and near the monument erected to the Confederate soldiers. But little evidence as to the causes that led up to the killing were brought out in the trial. It appeared that Newt Searcy, Will Bryant, and Hiram Pucket were talking, when Holly Strutton came up and made some remarks not complimentary to the crowd and Searcy took up the quarrel. Leroy, seeing his brother in trouble came to his assistance and both acknowledged to cutting Searcy, who lived only a few minutes after he was cut. The grand jury, which was then in session, brought out indictments for murder against both and at the December term of court 1900, Holly Strutton was tried and convicted and sentenced to be hung on March 15, 1901; his case was appealed and he was given respite. The ladies of the county made strong appeals for his life and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by Gov. Beckham the day before he was to be hanged. Leroy was tried by a special venire from Woodford county and was given a life sentence on April 16, 1901, the appeal to the jury for mercy by the late Judge Con Bell being instrumental in saving his life. They have made excellent records as prisoners, which went far towards their gaining a parole. Lawrenceburg News.

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