Lynch Law in Bracken County

Our Own Troubles  -  A Terrible Christmas to Two Men 


One Shot and the Murderer Hanged


On Saturday night before Christmas the wife of Geo. Duncan, a negro, living about four miles from Brooksville, to the right of the Santa Fee [sic] road, and on the place of Wils. Haley, went to some of the neighbors and complained that her husband had been beating and otherwise abusing her, and asked for protection.  Upon her representations, a party of young men of the neighborhood went to Duncan's house and called for him to come out - what they wanted with him, or what they were going to do is not known - at any rate he did not come out, and when they threatened to break in, Duncan fired into the crowd and instantly killed a young man about 18 years of age named Lewis Browning.  Immediately after the shooting, Duncan attempted to make his escape and was knocked down with a stone, his hands bound and he brought directly to Brooksville, where he had an examining trial and was remanded to jail.

About 9 1/2 o'clock on Saturday night, a party of some twenty horsemen rode quietly into Brooksville and surrounded Court Square.  At the same time some twelve or fifteen men on foot appeared upon the scene, all coming from the direction of Powersville on the Milford Pike, who at once proceeded to the jail and with cocked pistols told the jailer to surrender the keys, which, from the number of men and the number of six-shooters leveled at his head, he was not slow to do.  He, the jailer, was then forced into his own room and locked in. The party went inside the jail, took Geo. Duncan from his cell, returned the keys to [illeg], and left in the same direction they had come, the footmen being in the advance, and the horsemen keeping the streets clear of citizens while the work at the jail was going on.  So quietly was all this done that many of the good citizens of our county seat who retire early knew nothing of it till the next day.  The mob moved out the Milford Pike about three-fourths a mile from Brooksville, where stands on the west side of the pike a hickory tree, at which there is a pair of bars to enter the field.  From the tracks of Duncan's socks on the bars it is evident that he was made to climb to the top of them, and then the rope was thrown over a small limb, made fast, and the bars removed, leaving him to die the terrible death of strangulation.  The rope with which he was hanged was a common cotton one, such as is sometimes used for plow lines or bridle reins, and was in a slip knot around his neck, the knot coming under the right ear.  It had been removed by the coroner before we got there, and the neck seemed to be cut nearly half in two from the heavy weight on so small a cord.

At the Coroner's inquest the jury returned the verdict that “Geo. Duncan came to his death by the hands of persons unknown to the jury.”


from the Bracken County Chronicle of Jan. 4, and reprinted in the Covington Journal of January 6, 1872.