This is the headline that appeared in the Mountain Echo, a newspaper published in Laurel Co., KY, on April 13, 1885. The article describes the hanging of John Sexton at Barbourville for the crime of murder. The victim, George Routen, was a sawmill worker at the Davis and Hammon's mill near the the Whippoorwill Post Office. The motive was robbery. "They had not gone over one and a half miles until they came to an unfrequented spot near Sexton's house, but a considerable distance from that of anyone else. Sexton conceived the thought that this was his most propitious tiime and place to EXECUTE HIS HELLISH PLOT, so he told Routen that he had made arrangements with a sporting woman to meet them at that time a short distance in the brush, and that if Routen would go with him, they could have a jolly time for a season. Routen at once consented and they immediately started for the dense brush to the point disignated. They had gone but about one hundred yards when Sexton fell in the rear, drew his pistol, and shot Routen in the back of the head, robbed his person, threw the remains in a nap of a fallen tree, and left for home"
It is said that John Sexton "prophesied" as he stood on the gallows. He stated many in the sound of his voice would live to see carriages on the roads without horses, and men flying in the air like birds. He also told all the children to mind their parents. John Sexton maintained his innocence to the very last--indicating that his brother-in-law, James Carter, had actually committed the crime. It is rumoured that Jim Carter did indeed confess to the crime on his deathbed to a minister. It is also said the court transcripts have mysteriously disappeared over the years. We believe the victim, George Routen, was an ancestor, born in Lincoln Co., KY, as our family history indicates "our" George was indeed murdered at a young age, his body being found wrapped in bedding and thrown in a ravine. If anyone has any input on this event, please contact me at my email address. I do have a complete transcript of the newspaper article, which is very opinionated and sensationalized. A newspaper reporter would be sued for slander for this style of writing in the present day, with the exception of The National Enquirer, of course.