I have been told for many years that the house where the Glasgow Municipal Cemetery Office is located is supposedly haunted. Being next to a cemetery, it’s a give someone is going to think so… So I’ve never bothered to check up on this. A house right down the street has been claimed to be haunted by a Civil War era couple. The house wasn’t built until the early 20th century. But I digress here…
Recently, someone asked me what I knew about the Murder Mansion on Cemetery Road in Bowling Green, and so I began to research. The more I found, the more intriguing things got. Urban legends always involve an alarmingly high amount of coincidences. I’ve went over this before, encountered it on numerous times over the years. But it always catches me by surprise every time it happens.
Anyone who pays a visit to the Glasgow Municipal Cemetery, and does not become intrigued by the aura of history and mystery that surrounds the sacred ground, is really missing out on an experience that cannot otherwise be described with any comparison.
The City Cemetery was the third labeled as such, and was established by the International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge #65. In 1875, they purchased 12 acres from Clement Montague Depp for the purpose of developing a cemetery. The Depp family had an existing graveyard adjoining this property, making it the first and oldest plot in the cemetery.
At the top of the hill near the cemetery lay the remains of the Civil War stockade known now as Fort Williams. The cemetery slowly began to fill, the townspeople buying plots for their families. The Odd Fellows eventually sold the cemetery to the City of Glasgow in 1904. In this era, the Kilgore family owned land adjacent to the cemetery, and actually occupied the house that became in later years the cemetery sexton’s office, on Leslie Avenue.
Edward Y. Kilgore at one point owned the Glasgow Times newspaper. He was married to Annie Rogers, daughter of John T. Rogers and Olivia Lewis. One of their sons, Reed Shaw Kilgore and his wife Ella (nee Martin) and their two children – Ella and Harry, who was born 28 February 1923 – occupied the house at the front entrance to the cemetery on what is now Leslie Avenue. On 12 June 1925, Reed Kilgore committed suicide at home by hanging himself. He was 43 years old. His wife Ella remarried Millard Sharp, who was a widower with children, and ran a store on Grandview Avenue. By 1940 they were separated. In this timespan, Mrs. Kilgore/Sharp sold several acres on Leslie to the city for the cemetery’s use.
Harry Edward Kilgore attended Glasgow schools, and then went on to Western State College in Bowling Green, where he was majoring in physics. At some point in that time he fell in love with Ruth Ann McKinney, who was a few years younger than Kilgore. At some point, McKinney met Stonewall Martin, an older bachelor, and she agreed to marry him on 23 June 1948. After the wedding, the couple took their honeymoon in Siloam Springs, Arkansas,
In the early morning hours of the last day of June in 1948, 25 year old Harry Edward Kilgore drove his car into a wheat field off of Cemetery Road. He left the car there and walked to the nearby home of Dr. Charles B. Martin and his wife Martha. Dr. Martin was an 80 year old retired physician, and the father of 52 year old Stonewall Martin, whom Ruth Ann McKinney had just married the week before.
Kilgore broke the latch on the front door and let himself into the house. He was surprised on his entry into the hallway by Dr. Martin, and Kilgore fired a couple of shots. One lodged in the front door and one hit Dr. Martin in the head. Martin retreated into the bedroom, where he was shot two more times in the head. His wife Martha was shot once in the back of the head when she tried to escape from the bed.
After an unclear amount of time at the Martin house, where Kilgore claimed to have beaten the couple with a flashlight and a sandbag, as well as shooting them, of which evidence was found to corroborate this, Kilgore left the scene of the crime to return home to Glasgow. He claimed to have disposed of the gun, a stolen .32 caliber pistol, off the bridge into Barren River, on the way out of Bowling Green.
The bodies of the elderly couple were found around 7 o’clock that morning by two laborers who had been working for the Martin’s since June 7. Officials were called to the scene, and it wasn’t long before they had a suspect. Warren County Sheriff Boadley Davenport had heard previous reports of Kilgore’s upset and despondence over Ruth McKinney’s marriage to Stonewall Martin, and this led them to make Kilgore their prime suspect.
Deputy Sheriff Charlie Ashworth and Bowling Green Police Sgt. Curtis Henderson went to Glasgow, meeting up with Glasgow Policeman Wade Moran. The 3 proceeded to the Leslie Ave. home of Mrs. Ella Martin Kilgore, Harry Kilgore’s mother. They arrived there around 11 a.m. to find Kilgore sitting in the car, parked out in front of his mother’s house. Upon a search of the car, which Kilgore had borrowed from his sister, they found .32 shell casings in a thermos. Kilgore was taken into custody and returned to Bowling Green. Once in Warren County Attorney WH Natcher’s office, Kilgore broke and confessed what he had done.
At that time, nothing was said about anyone else’s involvement in the murders, but when Kilgore went before the grand jury, he admitted to having an accomplice, George Melvin Daggit, 35, a music professor and head of the piano department at Western.
When inquiries were made, Natcher found out that Daggit had resigned his post just a few days before the grand jury meeting.
No questioning was ever mentioned of Ruth Ann Martin who, Kilgore stated, married Stonewell Martin with the intent of inheriting all the Martin’s money. Kilgore told that he and Ruth had set it up for her to marry Martin. Kilgore would “get rid” of Dr. Martin and his wife, so their son would inherit everything, as he was their only living relative. Then Kilgore and Ruth would dispose of her husband, so she would inherit it all. Once that had taken place, Ruth would be free to marry Kilgore.
In a twist of fate, Stonewall Martin died unexpectedly in 1958. Kilgore came before the parole board that same year, but was denied parole at that time. As for Daggit, he had been indicted 2 separate times for his supposed involvement in the murders of Dr. Martin and his wife, but charges were dismissed for lack of evidence. Daggit went off to Michigan after the affair, and died unexpectedly in 1960, still denying his involvement in the murders.
Kilgore’s sanity came into question many times in the years following the murders. In 1961, his competency was questioned again, but it was proven he knew what he was doing the night he murdered the Martins. In 1965, Kilgore was given parole. Ruth Martin was waiting for him when he was released. The couple went to Florida, which was part of his release agreement, and they lived there, in Fort Pierce, with his sister.
Harry Edward Kilgore went out for a walk in his neighborhood on 10 May 1981. He was struck by a car out in front of his house, and died at the scene. He was 58 years old.
As to the Martin’s house, 1401 Fairview Ave., it remained empty for 12 years. In 1960, Ralph and Romanza Johnson bought the house, by then known as “Murder Mansion.” The Johnsons lived there for several years, fixing up the run-down house, and having get-togethers, especially on Hallowe’en, that boosted the “Murder Mansion” theme.
When sold in 2001, the owners at that time stated they had lived there for many years, and had no reason to believe the house was haunted, but they had faithfully carried on the “Murder Mansion” tradition on Hallowe’en. The current owners do not participate in this tradition, and have avoided being known as such.
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