Mob Law

An Owen County Murderer Captured in Bracken


An Armed Guard of Ten Men Placed Around the Jail


But Four Masked Men Rescue the Prisoner


Indignities of the People


Saturday was a stormy day in Brooksville, Bracken County.  Excitement fairly raged in the little village, and the officers of the law could do nothing to check it.  As near as we could learn, the following are the particulars:

One John Ware a number of years ago killed a man in Owen county (our informant could not give the name) and since that time has eluded the officers by hiding, and going from one place to another, but his principal hiding place was in Bracken county.  On Saturday, the father and brother of the murdered man appeared in Bracken accompanied by the Sheriff of Owen county and a constable from Grant county.  An active and thorough search for Ware was immediately instituted, and it was successful.  He was found on a road near Brooksville, and surrounded, when he attempted to escape by running, and was shot at a number of times but was not hit in his flight, however, he fell and broke his ankle, which was the cause of his capture.

As soon as Ware was taken, a bench warrant for his arrest was produced. He had been indicted in Owen county for the murder spoken of, and the bench warrant was issued on that indictment.  The officers took their prisoner to Brooksville, and placed him in jail, when his friends raised an outcry that startled the town, and roused the people to the highest pitch of excitement.  All sorts of rumors spread like wild-fire among the populace, and stirred them up to fever heat.  It was reported that that a number of Owen county citizens were just outside of town, and would soon come to the jail, and take Ware out and lynch him.  Another story was that a party of Ware's friends were organizing to rescue him.  The officers were defied, the citizens alarmed and anxious, and it was believed that in one way or the other the honor of old Bracken, one of the best counties in the State, was about to be trampled upon.

An appeal was made to the county Judge to take measures to uphold the dignity of the law, the fire-bells were rung and the citizens were called together.  The county Judge promptly acted upon the urging of the people, and placed a guard of ten armed men around the jail.  But this did not appear to abate the excitement one whit.  Indeed, it seemed to increase with the precautions adopted, and the impression grew hourly stronger that a forcible rescue, or lynching, was being prepared.

The sequel proved that there were truth in the rumors, for soon four masked men entered the jail and took the prisoner out, and made off with him.  Then rose high the wrath of the good people of Bracken, and the jailer and his guard were visited with numerous left-handed blessings.  It was charged that the whole matter of the rescue was a fixed-up affair; that the jailer knew it would be attempted, and facilitate the operation had Ware in a convenient place, ready for this friends to take him.  The authorities of Bracken county propose to sift the matter to the bottom, and bring all persons who hade anything to do with the outrage of justice.  The excitement in Brooksville was still high when our informant left, and there is likely to be some lively music before the matter is ended, to which all participants in the disgraceful affair will be made to dance.  It certainly does look strange that four men could enter a jail and set at liberty a prisoner in the presence of ten armed guards.


from Covington's Daily Commonwealth, October 29, 1877