As I begin this next tale, I am going to attempt to explain the connection to all those involved so it will be easier for others to follow. I’ve had problems with this one myself, as some of those involved were related by blood, and marriage, more than once. And the Neville family was once quite prominent in the early history of the area that now encompasses Barren, Metcalfe, and Hart Counties, and also Mammoth Cave National Park.
The accused was John W. Neville, son of Joseph Dodson Neville (1822-1890) and Susan Renfro (1824-1897), and was born around 1847. He grew up in a brick home on the farm of the late George Groce at Randolph, KY. He spent his whole life in and around Randolph, and there also met his untimely death. Once he married, John lived in a cabin on the land formerly owned by Malcolm Harbison, not far from the site of the incident I will be speaking on later. This is also close to where he met his own death, and was subsequently buried in a cemetery that contained members of his mother’s family, the Renfros.
John’s paternal grandparents were William Neville and Mildred Holtsclaw. William was born up in the area of Hart County, but Mildred’s parents, Henry Holtsclaw and Sarah Shirley had several children, some of them staying in the area, while they went to Jackson Co., IL, and finished out their lives there.
Another character that figured prominently in this tragic tale was William H. Perkins. I have found little on him, which is amazing, since the Perkins family was also very influential and proficient in the same areas I mentioned the Nevilles were. All I have found on this “Bill” Perkins is that he was born somewhere around 1820, and he married on 12 May 1848 in Barren Co., KY to Lucy Neville (1827- ?), daughter of Joseph Neville and Anne Mackey. This Lucy had assuredly died sometime before this tragedy, as Bill Perkins had been married to Lucy Franklin Perkins for a few years when she was murdered.
Lucy Neville Perkins was the daughter as I stated, of Joseph Neville (b. 1785) and Anne Mackey (b. 1788). This Joseph Neville was a brother to John Neville’s grandfather William Neville, and so John Neville and Lucy Neville Perkins were what is called “2nd cousins.”
Lewis Franklin was born in 1755 in Norfolk, VA; he served in the Revolutionary War, and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He married on 21 March 1787 to Millie Stone (she died between 13 August 1841 and 20 May 1842), daughter of Eusebius Stone and Susannah Ballard. Lewis died at his home near Three Springs, in Hart Co., KY, on 20 March 1842 at the age of 84. He and his wife Millie were interred in the family cemetery near their home place. One of Lewis and Millie’s sons, Jeremiah, had several descendants who populated the area between Slick Rock and Kino, into the present Metcalfe County.
Lewis and Millie Franklin’s 9th child, Lewis Franklin, was born in 1807. He married 10 October 1841 in Barren Co., KY to Elizabeth Helton (other records say Renick). They were the parents of three known daughters, the oldest being Lucy J. Franklin (1 June 1842- 26 August 1871). She was still in her parents home in the 1860 Metcalfe Co., KY Federal Census, but soon thereafter married William H. “Bill” Perkins. After her murder, she was buried in the Hoover-T. Glass Cemetery, .8 miles south of Hwy 68-80 at Wisdom.. The cemetery is accessed off of Hwy 640, going toward Randolph. I am unsure why she was buried here, but can only assume her parents are buried here as well.
Now the story gets complicated. It has been understood from oral tradition that John Neville was sweet on Lucy Franklin when they were teenagers. Legend says John Neville courted her and wanted to marry her, but Lucy did not feel the same way about him, and she married Bill Perkins instead.
Bill Perkins was a widower, 20+ years older than Lucy Franklin, and had several children with Lucy Neville. Among them was a daughter, Ann Eliza, called Lyde. When Bill Perkins and Lucy Franklin married, they lived in a log house near Fallen Timber Creek, where the home of Wilbur Glass now stands, off of Hwy 640, between Randolph and Summer Shade.
The only other knowledge of the events leading up to Lucy Franklin Perkins’ murder at the hands of John Neville, is that John married Lyde Perkins sometime between 1860, and the time of the murder in 1871. This made Lucy his mother-in-law on legal accounts, and must have been quite awkward at family get-togethers and dinners. John and Lyde had two daughters, Cordelia and Mary C. The legend goes that after the great tragedy, Lyde left the area with her daughters. Sometime in the 1970s descendants came to find their roots, and knew nothing about this family tragedy.
Stay tuned for the next part, the day of the tragedy that took the life of Lucy Franklin Perkins and set events in motion that lead to the lynching of John Neville in the woods near Lucy’s murder.
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