Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fatal Stabbing Affray

The Marietta Register, May 17, 1866

On Saturday last, after the circus exhibition, three citizens of West Virginia, opposite Marietta, when returning home, engaged in a drunken brawl on the ferry boat J. B. McMillan. During the fracas, one of the men, named Reed, stabbed one of the others named Kinnaird in the bowels, inflicting a wound from which he died the following Monday morning. The third man, named Ritchie, also received a severe, but not dangerous, stab in the side. Reed was then knocked down by one of the passengers and the knife taken from him. On reaching the Virginia shore, Reed was arrested by a Constable, but managed to escape, and has thus far eluded all efforts of the officers to re-capture him.

The case, carefully summed up, stands thus: Three neighbors start to town in the morning, warm friends; before they return home, one of them receives a death blow from his friend - another receives a fearful wound - and the third is made an exile from home and friends, a fugitive from justice, a vagabond on the face of the earth!

Truly the power of strong drink is fearful when it can thus make demons of men and blast their lives forever.

The Marietta Register, May 24, 1866:

Reed, who fatally stabbed Kinnaird, on the Williamsport ferry boat, was arrested at Athens on Wednesday, 16th inst., by Sheriff Johnson, and brought to Marietta and lodged in Jail, from whence he was removed to Parkersburg on Friday evening. He voluntarily went over the river with the Sheriff of Wood County, West Virginia, thereby avoiding the delay of a requisition from the Governor.

The Marietta Register, June 21, 1866:

 In order to correct the many misstatements and false rumors about the affray that occurred on the Ferry Boat between Williamstown and Marietta on the 12th of May, we publish the following testimony as given by State witnesses during the trial:

E. D. Geren, sworn - I saw the beginning of the affray; saw four persons only aft of the boiler on the ferry boat, when the affray took place, viz: Almstead [Armistead] Kinnaird, John Uhl, Russell Reed, and a man said to be Robert Ritchie; all seemed to be under the influence of liquor; heard some loud talk, and the first that I saw of the affray was that Kinnaird struck Reed, and then Kinnaird and Reed clinched; they were down; Reed rose up with Kinnaird; and then I saw John Uhl strike at Reed, and then Ritchie clinched Reed and they both fell over the stove together; and when they rose up, I saw a knife in Reed's hand; did not see him cut any person; all seemed to be fighting against Reed.

Robert Campbell, sworn - Did not see the commencement; Kinnaird, Reed and Uhl were in conflict; I went in to part them and Ritchie pulled me away; Kinnaird was on top; Reed turned him and got up; did not see Reed cut Kinnaird; at the time we had hold of Reed, he pulled out the knife; he did not say what he intended to do; he did strike at me; they all had the appearance of being intoxicated; the two were against Reed; when I first went in, Ritchie was there; I saw Kinnaird strike Reed when we were holding him; Reed was rather holding back; Reed's knife was visible when Kinnaird struck him; the room was five feet wide and twenty feet long.

George Metcalf, sworn - Was on my way over the river; when I went on the boat, Kinnaird and Reed were clinched; Kinnaird struck at Reed over my shoulders twice; Kinnaird kept pressing forward, and I slapped him; I went off and returned; Kinnaird had hold of Reed; did not see Reed strike Ritchie; when Kinnaird Went off the boat; he said he'd pay me for it; I was standing between Reed and him, when Kinnaird struck him twice; Ritchie said, "let him (K.) go, and whip the damn little rascal"; they were all drunk.

James W. Kinnaird, sworn - Was not in the cabin of the boat; Reed came down and said he was pretty tight, and I saw he was; John Uhl called A. Kinnaird back in the cabin; had a canteen with him; saw Kinnaird after the fracas was over, but did not know he was cut; he was pretty tight; they were all tight; when Reed went back, he was doing nothing; when Kinnaird had him down, he was choking him black; Kinnaird was a very strong man; when Reed left the boat, his hand was bleeding very freely.

L. C. Arbour, sworn - I came down to go over on the boat; saw there was a fuss; they had hold of Reed; I saw Kinnaird pushing to him, trying to strike him; Reed said, "give me my hat, and I'll go out"; I saw him make a motion, , but did not see him strike Kinnaird with the knife; I tried to push Kinnaird, but couldn't do it; I pushed Ritchie back; Uhl was cursing Reed; Ritchie, Kinnaird and Uhl were all making at Reed.

Rufus Campbell, sworn - I run the ferry boat; Kinnaird and Reed clinched and fell over the stove; Kinnaird on top; Kinnaird shoved me over, and struck Reed; and Ritchie said, "let Kinnaird whip him"; Kinnaird, Ritchie, Reed and Uhl were engaged; did not see Kinnaird cut; it was 5-1/2 o'clock in the evening; Kinnaird could see the knife, and after he saw it, he pushed me one side and struck Reed; it was a pretty hard blow; Reed told the men not to crowd him; he seemed only to want to get the men away from him.

Taking into consideration the above testimony, the extreme youth of young Reed (18 years), who was defending himself against three (3) grown men, and as for the justness of the sentence passed upon him, we leave only for the loyal public to decide.

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