His Last Desperate Attempts – February 1899

Though Bob Brown asserted he was confident the Court of Appeals would set aside the judgment of Barren Circuit Court, he last petitioned Governor Bradley to extend executive clemency in his case, which the Governor flatly refused to do. Brown also wrote a letter to President McKinley, to whom he told his tale of woe, and asked that he use his influence in securing his pardon, but McKinley ignored him.

The Court of Appeals confirmed the death sentence of Bob Brown on Tuesday, February 21, 1899.  After hearing this, Brown was in a very desperate mood, pacing up and down in his cell by day, and tossing about on his cot at night.  On Friday evening, February 24, about 6 o’clock, as Jailer Carter entered his cell to clean it,  Brown pounced upon him before he knew his intentions, and threw him on the floor, at the same time searching him for his keys or pistols.  Although Brown is a giant compared to Jailer Carter, the latter grappled with him bravely, and held him until the other prisoners, who were outside their cells, came to his assistance.  Brown was finally overpowered by force and dragged back into his cell and locked up.  He is now kept under guard, and will not have the opportunity to make another such attempt soon.  Had it not been for the timely assistance rendered to jailer Carter by the other prisoners, Brown’s attempt would have doubtless been successful.

After Brown was put back in his cell, he explained to the crowd that he did not intend to harm Jailer Carter, but saw one chance in 100 to escape, and by taking advantage of it he only did what every other man would have done under similar circumstances.  He also asserted he expected aid from the other prisoners, as they frequently expressed a similar urge….

Brown’s wife and four children called on him at the jail the following afternoon, for the first time since his arrest.  His wife asked him if he was prepared to die, to which he replied that at times he felt he was prepared, and at others he was doubtful.  His wife then warned him it was time he became reconciled to his fate, as he would surely be hung.  At this Brown broke down completely, and cried like a baby.  After a pathetic scene, Brown told his wife to raise up their children in the fear of God, and make honest, law-abiding citizens of them.

His hanging, being postponed when he filed his appeal, was reset for Monday, April 3, 1899, the day after Easter.  John Franklin’s execution would come on Friday, March 10, 1899.



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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One Response to His Last Desperate Attempts – February 1899

  1. Bruce Thomas says:

    The Brown story interests me considerably. As a kid in the sixties, on Sundays when our families would get together there near Glasgow, at least once a year I’d hear the old folks whispering about the scandalous last hanging in Barren County. They’d whisper to keep the kids from hearing but we all had pretty good ears, and because they didn’t want my great grandmother to hear them talking about it. We called my GGM “Mammy” but her name was Terry Thomas, nee McClellan, and apparently the reason Bob Brown started shooting people that night. Anyway- fascinating- thanks!

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