A Capitol Hill Tragedy – 17 December 1895

On the night of December 17, 1895, there was a deep snow and it was bitterly cold, but that didn’t stop a Protracted Meeting at the Church. TH (Pomp) Durham rushed in, went down the aisle and snatched his daughter Arvie off the bench, and yelled that “Booker has shot Annie Belle.”  The protracted meeting ended as worshipers fled thru the snow to the scene.  Booker Steenbergen and Annie Belle were cousins, and lovers.  Not first cousins, mind you, but cousins.  She had found she was pregnant, but Booker did not wish to marry.  Her brothers told him he’d marry her or they would kill him.  At the time, he was living with Powell and Kate McIntyre, about a mile from his father.  He took Powell’s gun, and slipped out.

Annie Belle Steenbergen was the 25 year old daughter of Charlie and Camille Steenbergen.  She was shot through the window of her home, and instantly killed.  The load of shot struck the unfortunate woman in the right temple, tearing off the top of her head.   The incident occurred at an early hour of the night, just as the victim was preparing to retire.  Booker Steenbergen, age 18 or 19, the son of Hugh Steenbergen, became frightened after he shot Annie Belle, and he ran down the hill through John Hinson’s old tobacco stubble on Glover’s Creek, across and up the Bewley Branch to his father’s house, where he hid under a bed.  A posse formed, caught him, and brought him to the Gibson place with the intention of hanging him to a huge tree in the yard, known as the “Hanging Tree.”  Johnny Pickett Harrison persuaded the group to get the sheriff and send Booker to Glasgow for trial.

Young Steenbergen was arrested and brought to jail in Glasgow.  The incident happened on Tuesday night, and on Thursday, under strong guard, he was delivered to the jail.  Monday he was brought out for examining trial, but waived this, and was committed to Circuit Court without bail.  Steenbergen was brought before County Judge Bohannon, waived an examining trial, and was committed to jail without bail.  This was done at the request of the prisoner, as he wished to waive bail and be safely in jail before the murdered woman’s relatives came to town.

Further in the day, a crowd of witnesses and sympathizers with the dead woman’s family came in, and matters became serious for Steenbergen.  As the day wore on, authorities realized that serious trouble was brewing for the night, and an order was made to transfer the accused to a safer locality.

It was soon whispered around that Steenbergen would be lynched that night, and there was no mistaking the temper of the men who were there, among whom were the father, several brothers, and uncles of the murdered girl.  They had come 18 or 20 miles to Glasgow for this very reason.

Circuit Judge Jones, realizing the danger of a mob, ordered a transfer of Steenbergen to the jail in Louisville for safe keeping.  Just a few minutes before the afternoon train pulled out the Sheriff and several deputies spirited the accused man out of jail and into a closed carriage and drove rapidly by a roundabout way to the depot with him.  Those interested were evidently not suspecting anything of the kind, and were caught napping.,  Before the Sheriff and prisoner had time to get to the train, the people became aware that the bird had flown, and mounted their horses in haste.  A hot chase began to catch Steenbergen, and take him from the officers before they got him on the train.

On an end note, Annie Belle Steenbergen is buried in the Steenbergen Cemetery between Austin and Tracy, and the dates on her stone read:  17 December 1870- 17 December 1895.  She died on her 25th birthday.

Booker Steenbergen was sentenced to the penitentiary where he remained until he was an old man.  His father moved away from the area a few years after the incident and never went back.  It was also said that residents of Capitol Hill went to Fountain Run the next morning after the shooting and bought every window shade in town.




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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4 Responses to A Capitol Hill Tragedy – 17 December 1895

  1. echo says:

    How do I find family of the people in this story??? I have a family bible that dates back to the 1800s and it has all the names of the people in this family in it

  2. Janet Steenbergen says:

    Booker Steenbergen was my great uncle.My father’s name was Winford Steenbergen.Bookers brother George was my grandfather.I would absolutely love to meet with you and see this Bible.My name is Janet Steenbergen.

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