The Bloody Hand – 24 May 1858

Glasgow has been known from its earliest days for its progressiveness.  Several years back, there was a great fad among small towns of Southern KY for genuine, “sure enough” ghosts.   A town without its ghost was behind the times.  So Glasgow designated a ghost and a ghost house.  This home was located on Columbia Avenue about where Dr. Small’s office and the Minit Mart now stand.  A very gruesome and terrible tragedy happened in this house, and for many years it remained unoccupied and was the abode of bats and owls.

The Vic Bybee family moved in and occupied it for several years before it was finally torn down.  They claimed that often times, when it was cloudy and the wind was up, bending trees, and the lightning flashed, one could hear a muffled scream, then you would hear a door creak open and the patter of bare, faltering feet, intermingled with moans and muffled sobbing.  Next was a squeak on the time-worn staircase, the slamming of the front door, then complete stillness.  The Bybees no doubt read much of the ghostly visits into the moaning of the winds, the swishing of overhanging branches of trees on the roof, the popping of house timbers, the slamming of ill-fitting doors, and the rattle of windows into the many old haint stories carried over from antebellum times, when the Bybee ancestors had been slaves.

This old house with its unsavory history, its vacant windows, its absence of human life for years, stood near the street.  It was frame with only a few windows with small sash and tiny panes, huge chimneys with wide gaping fireplace in all 4 of its rooms and low, wide doors, heavily battened.  The house was not underpinned, was bare of paint, and a rather sloping roof much covered with moss.

The original owner of this house, with its ghostly inhabitants, was John Frank, a blacksmith who, with his father Peter, were early settlers in Glasgow.  They had a nail factory here that was successful when the pioneers still used the wooden pegs.  John, with his family, had lived here happily and contentedly for quite awhile.

According to the 1850 Census, Mary Frank was born around 1833, the oldest of 8 children of John and Juliet Frank.  John Frank was born ca. 1804, and his brother William ca. 1811.  Wm. was listed as a druggist boarding in Josiah Moss’ tavern in 1850.  Peter Frank’s will names sons William, John, and Josiah, a daughter Susan Jane, and son-in-law Thomas H. Harrison.

Mary Frank married on 7 October 1857 to David W. Stone, born 14 December 1822.  He was one of 13 children of William H. Stone and Mary “Polly” Jewell.  David was a prosperous man and a carpenter by trade.  The newlyweds were invited to come live with the bride’s parents until their new home could be finished.  The new home was on North Jackson Highway, where Dr. Clements afterwards lived, next to the Ball Park.  Ironically, the house that David Stone was having built for his bride when they tragically died is now the current location of Hatcher and Saddler Funeral Home.

The midnight hour of 24 May 1858 was ushered in with wind, rain, and lightning whipping at the earth and lashing it.  About 4 o’clock in the morning, Mr. and Mrs. Frank were awakened by a slight noise from their daughter’s room.  There was a muffled scream followed by the sound of bare feet.  The door to their own room was pushed slowly open, and their daughter fell headlong into the room with her throat cut horribly and the blood gushing from it.  She died without speaking.

Their screams roused the neighbors and the alarm was given.  Soon the stealthy tread of sock-shod feet could be heard on the stairs, hesitating a moment at the bottom, then shuffled across to the door, which was cautiously opened, and Stone made a run for his horse, an unusually fine animal, which was bridled and saddled, and hitched in front, but he was too late.  Officers of the law had been notified and were on the spot.

Stone knew escape was impossible and before the officers realized what he was about, he had drawn the same keen razor on which his wife’s blood had not yet dried, and cut his own throat from ear to ear.  He fell and the officers rushed to him, but could be of no assistance.  Stone died without ever uttering a sound.

After Stone had cut his wife’s throat, she had fled from the room, holding her hand over her throat.  She went across the hall to her parents’ room and pushed the door open with the hand she had to her cut throat, leaving the print of her entire hand on the door in blood.  Those who came afterward to live in the house, tried to wash the stain off, but to no avail.  Some used lye soap on it, they tried to scrape it off – it seemed to have penetrated the entire wood, and as long as it stood, one could see the Hand distinctly.

This terrible tragedy shocked Glasgow and all Barren Co. beyond measure and there were many conjectures and theories advanced as to the cause, but no one ever knew the true cause of the murder/suicide.  The only ones who could have told the pitiful story were hushed in death.

After the break of dawn, as Logan Porter was delivering his papers, he saw a crowd gathered on Columbia Avenue, and in boy-like curiosity, went to investigate.He saw the blood-smeared body of David Stone lying where it had fallen.  He pushed his way through the crowd into the house where lay the body of the slain woman.  Frightened and horror-stricken, the boy fled from the scene, which haunted him for days and weeks afterward, and remained buried deeply in his memory the rest of his life.

Long trials followed and many quirks in the law.  For some reason,  since Mary died first, David’s family was to inherit her estate.  The Franks sued the Stone estate for everything they could.  A romantic version of this story went out that the couple were buried in the same grave, but the estate settlements included an invoice with the price of two coffins and their fittings, and also a bill for the palings and posts to enclose the graves.  There was also a bill included from Dr. George Rogers “for returning wife’s bowels and dressing the wounds – $5.”  This seems to indicate Mary had been slashed in the abdominal area rather than or including the throat.

The late Gladys Wilson indicated a variation of the story that had David Stone charging to his horse and being able to get away, thereby being followed by his pursuers.  Supposedly when they reached him he slashed his own throat.  There is no documented evidence to validate this version, except that John Frank filed a suit on David Stone’s estate for “kidnapping my horse.”  The Glasgow newspaper carried tale after tale of the deaths with vivid eye-witness accounts from some of Glasgow’s most well-known individuals.

The Franks soon moved from the house, unable to live in the home where their daughter had died.  Over the years, the house passed through many hands, most often being rented by families for a short period of time.  But no one stayed long, for the sounds continued, and on every moonlit night, the outline of the bloody hand print of Mary Frank Stone could still be seen.  Suspicious noises might be heard in the still night and even grown men noted for courage and bravery walked on the other side of the road.

 

 

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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