The Murder Of Gallatin Co., Ky. Sheriff
What you are about to read is a true story. It is told from my memory and the memory of others and from the news papers . The events took place in June, 1954 in Sparta, Ky. Sparta is a small community in Gallatin County, Ky. It lies on Eagle Creek at the Owen County line about seven miles south of Warsaw on Ky 35. Sparta was a peaceful little town for the most part. The population was under 200 at that time. The L & N Railroad ran through the town. The stock yard was beside the railroad. Every Thursday, there was a sale. The cattle were loaded on the train and most of them were shipped to Cincinnati, Ohio. I believe that Kahn's received most of the cattle. There were grocery stores, saloons, post office, one restaurant, and a tent skating rink. Everyone usually went about minding their own business and most of the people knew each other on a first name basis. Sparta was also known at that time to be sort of a rough town. It was mostly people just blowing off steam and meaning no harm to anyone. It was Friday night, June 18, 1954. We had the farm chores done and had gone to town for groceries. Mom & Dad let us roller skate at least once a week. My sister and I had skated and were preparing to go home. It was about 10:15 PM. I can remember that night like it was yesterday, even though I was only eleven years old. My parents had parked the car by the train depot. The lights had gone out in town. There had been what sounded like a gun shot or two in the area. Hearing a gunshot in Sparta was not all that uncommon. Mom and dad walked to the skating rink to get my sister and I. The rink was only about 150 ft from where the car was parked. We got to the car and were preparing to leave and my mother said,"Ralph, Don't hit this drunk laying on the ground beside the car." There was a man on the ground with tan or brown pants, a white shirt, and a pair of gold rim glasses hanging on his face. He appeared to be totally passed out. There were two men wrestling with him trying to get him loaded into the back seat of a car. As we left town mom said,"You know, that man looked like Hub Ferguson." It was unlikely to impossible that Sheriff Ferguson would be laying on the ground in Sparta drunk. We got home which was about 2 1/2 miles from town. We always had a snack when we got home from town and skating. We were sitting at the table and my mother said, "You know, that really did look like Hub Ferguson laying back there. " We finished our snack and retired for the evening. The next morning word came that Sheriff Ferguson was missing. Could what we had seen in Sparta the night before have really been Hub Ferguson?
Sheriff Hubbard Ferguson was born in 1890 in Ky. He was the son of William Ferguson and Lula Sanders. He was a native of Gallatin County. He was divorced and had a son. So many people always thought of him as a bachelor living by himself. Not too many people knew that he had been married. His father William Ferguson and mother Lula Sanders Ferguson are buried in the Warsaw Ky cemetery.
Word came that the sheriff's car had been found not far from his home on Parks Ridge road. His hat was found in the woods like he had lost it while walking through the woods. (If you dropped your hat on the ground wouldn't you pick it up and not leave it there??) As fear mounted about the safety of the sheriff, an all out search had begun. People from all over the county joined in the search but search as they might the sheriff was no where to be found on Parks Ridge. The search continued over the hills and into the town of Sparta. People were questioned. Nothing seemed to steer the search party in the right direction to find the sheriff. Did he meet with foul play or was he just off somewhere doing something? If he were off somewhere else, he didn't take his car so the latter seemed unlikely. On a Monday following that Friday night, a body was found in Eagle Creek just below Sparta. A Mr. Samuel's was working his ground along the creek when his horse shied away as if to have seen something and had made it react in that way. After making an inspection of the Creek and shore line, it was discovered that there was a body floating in the creek. The law was called and it was the body of Sheriff Ferguson. He had been shot in the head, an iron rail tie plate was around his neck. When he was found, his head was under water because of the tie plate and his watch had stopped at 10:15. Nothing was ever said about my mother's suspicions about that man laying in the street being Mr. Ferguson. There was no proof and mom was scared also, so nothing ever came of it. Both mom and dad are now deceased and I feel that the story should be told. The generation of the time of the killing and now, leaves a gap to be filled. Those who were adults in 1954 are for the most part passed away by now. My generation is about the only connection with keeping the story alive. The generation after me won't even know about it unless someone passes it on down to them. The following will be newspaper articles etc. about the murder. One article of interest was when a car was found with bullet holes in it and blood inside the car. Those men didn't know how one of the bullet holes got into the car. If there is still samples of the blood on file and if there is a sample of Sheriff Ferguson's blood on file, couldn't dna matching prove whether or not it was the blood of the sheriff in the car belonging to the two men?
Investigating officers were trying to retrace the steps of the slain sheriff of Gallatin County., Ky, Hubbard Ferguson, in an attempt to pick up leads Tuesday.
Robert Dickerson,upper left, is operator of the 200 acre farm nine miles from Warsaw,owned by the victim. He was one of the last persons to talk to the sheriff before he was killed last Friday night.
Upper right shows an auto parked in approximately the same place where the officer's auto was found abandoned Saturday.
"When I saw the car is rear end was about here," said Jimmy O'Connor, 18, lower left,who lives on a farm adjoining the Ferguson place. The youth said he saw the car "with no one around" at 10:30 p.m. Friday. The road shown is Lick Creek
Lower right shows Clarence Wheeler; brother-in-law of the slain man, and his immediate predecessor in the office of sheriff, examines contents of the glove compartment of Mr. Ferguson's car.
Taken from the Gallatin County News and the Ky Post June 1954. This page was created May 12, 1998 and is Under Construction. Come back and visit often for the updates.
A CONTINUED EFFORT TO BRING YOU THE TRUTH AS I KNOW IT ABOUT SHERIFF FERGUSON OF GALLATIN COUNTY.
This Picture Shows Body of Murdered Sheriff As It Floats In Eagle Creek.
(This picture was taken on Monday 21 June, 1954.)
Officials today were trying to locate the person who made two telephone calls, one to Sheriff Ferguson's office in the Court House, and the other to his private phone in the L.L. Hall residence. Investigators explained that at 8:30 Friday night June 18, a persistent telephone call was placed to the sheriff's office in the court house and after continued ringing the phone was answered by Deputy Jailer Clay Jones. When asked if the sheriff was in, he referred the call to the sheriff's private phone in the L.L. Hall residence. Because the phone continued to ring, Mr. Hall answered it. When informed that the sheriff was not in, the party(a man's voice) volunteered no information and hung up. An appeal now is being made to the person who tried to call the sheriff at that time to please contact County Judge Earl Spencer in order that the uncertainty of this call may be cleared up. Note: The above was taken from the Ky Post.
Roy Wheeler's original site can still be accessed - www.angelfire.com/ky/roydwheeler - but since his page was originally created, the site has become one inundated with ads, pop-ups, and tracking cookies. For that reason, we've copied all of Wheeler's text -without any changes- here.