Murder Mansion – The Kilgore Saga – 30 June 1948

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 given 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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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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27 Responses to Murder Mansion – The Kilgore Saga – 30 June 1948

  1. BESSIEM624@aol.com says:

    Thank you so much..Brings back so many memories. I knew all of these people. Went to school with Ruth Ann . Worked at the Archway Inn and served Kilgore and Daggit many times. It was all about money. I am sure the 10 years were miserable for the Martins. She was a beautiful girl and he was a little hunch back kind man. Bessie Miller ^24 E Pearl St. Greenwood In. 46143

  2. bob says:

    I have extensive and very indepth research on this case. I have photos from the murder scene. Every time I review this I come out with a different opinion on what really happened. I am a friend of the current resident. My father was a student at WKSTC at the time of the murder. All my life I heard this story.

  3. cadotonic01 says:

    Where did you find info about Ruth McKinney and Kilgore going to Fl. I would love to see this. According to William H. Natcher’s private papers, he felt she was the brains behind all of this. However, she became impregnated by a local banker in BG before the terms of her receiving all inheritance and therefore it was lost to her. So I would love to see evidence of her meeting up with Kilgore. A lot of questions here. Can’t wait to hear from you.

    • Gclee says:

      http://www.bgdailynews.com/mystery-mansion/article_3c45f208-feb7-5c88-b3bd-b7922cd08d07.html?mode=jqm

      This is an article that ran in the Daily News, stating that the prosecuting attorney had a visit from Kilgore and McKinney after he was released. It erroneously states they married when they went to Florida, but Kilgore’s death records show him as still single. McKinney may have been pregnant but she had no children. I lost track of her after Kilgore died in 1981/2.

      • cadotonic01 says:

        This all makes since based on reading that article, a lot of assumptions from the librarian at the KY Library. Of course a lot of assumptions on the entire deal. I am not sure if she had a child or not, the letter in Mr. Natcher’s file only mentions the information he received from a “local” banker indicating she had forfeited her inheritance by turning up pregnant and wanting the money before the pregnancy began to show, she may have been lying about that too. The ladies at the Cemetery told me that she has shown up there a couple times to make sure she has a plot. Which she does next to Stonewall Martin, just a couple hundred yards from the murder mansion. BTW the girlfriend thing, I believe was a one way affair if it existed at all. In the trial it was brought out that Kilgore was gay and his military record indicates the same was probably true. As a matter of fact in one of Daggit’s trials the jury send a note to the judge wanting to know the meaning of the word “Homosexual”, lol. Can you imagine?

        Well I appreciate your input and response. I would love to talk to you sometime about this, and my relatives that lived and died in Barren County. Thanks again.

  4. cadotonic01 says:

    Sorry, I could not remember exactly correct on my quote from the Natcher letter, so i found it and re-read it. She did not forfeit her inheritance. See the note below:

    “Several months ago one of my banker friends at the Bowling Green Bank and Trust told me they had a right unusual situation during the settlement of the Stoney Martin case. Stoney Martin’s will provide if his wife remarried before the settlement of the estate, she would only receive a certain amount. The settlement of this estate required several years because there was considerable property involved. After Stoney Martin died she immediately started out the way she had operated when she was going with Edward Kilgore. One of the bakers at the American National Bank was courting her a little on the side and would meet her in the Fairview Cemetery after the cemetery had closed for the night. This man is now dead and his wife lives in Florida. Stoney’s wife was also courting several others and one of these men feel in love with her and they were to get married. It was time to marry because she was pregnant and this was all during the settlement of her husband’s estate. She could not marry because she would give up a great portion of her inheritance and she was pregnant and time was passing. She was at the bank almost every day insisting that the estate be immediately settled and finally when the estate was settled and she was several months pregnant, she and this man married. This was just in time because the child was born a few months after the marriage. This is really a gal and during the prosecution of the Kilgore case she knew that I knew that she was much more involved than could be substantiated with proper evidence which would be accepted in court. All during the trial of the Kilgore case she just sat and glared at me.”

  5. Norm Johnson says:

    Who is the author of this version of events? I would be happy to share documented information regarding the Martin Murders and Murder Mansion.

    • Gclee says:

      Not for sure what you mean by “this version of events”? The bulk of the documents used for research were from Judge Natcher’s personal papers. The rest of the research was from nespaper articles of the time. I’m not sure what else you could add to this other than things I did not post out of respect for people who may or may not still be living who I did not want to offend. Are you perhaps related to the Johnsons who owned the house in the ’80s?

      • cadotonic01 says:

        I think what Norm means by “this version of events” is exactly as you say. I have read and studied this murder and trial(s) from inside out. I have studied every word Mr. Natcher wrote, every word published from newspapers to Magazines. Talked to many who lived through these events. Sequestered trial documents from the Commonwealth, visited the house and spoke with Norm in detail, and every word that Norm provided me. I can tell you this for certain there is several versions and outcomes this story can take. Mr. Natcher, although I respect his opinion, is only one version. After reading and studying all the documentation I cannot say for sure, what the actual truth is. Norm Johnson is a good man, and spent I would not even guess how much renovating and restoring the “Murder Mansion” he knows more about the events than anyone else I know. So I understand exactly what he means by “this version of events”.

  6. Gclee says:

    I meant no disrespect to Mr. Johnson… When I embarked on this adventure, I was only intending to portray the character of Kilgore at the point in time from the Barren County end. I am humbled by all the response to this particular case, that has become farther removed from first-hand accounts as time goes on. There were alot of things I didn’t touch upon about this case because of the sensitivity of the subjects. I remember hearing through the Glasgow grapevine about Kilgore’s questionable end in Florida, and would not want any of you who have responded to this post to be discouraged from sharing whatever you would like to share of the situation in all its facets. Thank you all for your responses in furthering the interest of this case.

  7. Seth says:

    Mr Kilgore was not killed on the side of the road walking in front of his house. He was killed on his Bicycle going to the TV repair shop late at night. The person who hit and killed him was never found.

    • Gclee says:

      BICYCLIST KILLED IN FORT PIERCE

      Fort Pierce – A 58-year-old bicyclist from Fort Pierce died in an apparent hit-and-run traffic accident Sat. night, a Police Dept. spokesman said. Harold E. Kilgore, of 817 S. 7th St., was found lying beside Boston Ave. at approximately 11:30 PM. Police investigators say he was hit from behind by a car.

      The Palm Beach Post – May 12, 1981 p 82

      Yes, I was aware of that. It was brought to my attention shortly after I wrote this feature.

      • cadotonic01 says:

        Is there follow up to this.? Seth said he was going to TV Repair shop? Where did that come from I wonder?

      • Gclee says:

        This IS our Kilgore. As to whether the TV shop is so, I have heard that before, but never had it confirmed. As to the bicycle, he wasn’t on it from what I was told, but walking beside it pushing it. But it is him. I have not seen another obit, and I haven’t researched for a local one. I only recently got back around to updating some of my older stories.

      • cadotonic01 says:

        Cool, thanks. I wish Fl. Had open records. 😀

      • Gclee says:

        Me too. If I find anything else I’ll let you know.

      • cadotonic01 says:

        I spent several hours today searching for Obit, struck out! Detailed death record only available to surviving relations. I found nothing other than Seth,s post indicating he was on way to tv repair shop. Nothing indicating wife or any other survivors other than sister he was living with. Someone posted a lot of stuff from Glasgow newspaper on the find-a-grave web site.

      • cadotonic01 says:

        Also this is Harold Edward Kilgore? Our boy is Harry Edward is this a typo or different person?

  8. cadotonic01 says:

    Hi Seth, thanks for adding this information. Where did it come from? Would you happen to have documentation, if so I would be interested in seeing it, or knowing where you got it. Simply for research reasons. Thank!

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