Triple Homicide – Final Chapter of Jacksonville – 1926


The following is taken in part from an article that appeared in the Glasgow Times, date Thursday 22 July 1926.

“Louis Vance 34, Dick Vance 43, and Harry Collins 44, are dead! And Arthur McAlister, local band-man and bootlegger, who did the killing, is in jail in Louisville. This triple slaying is the worst the has ever occurred in Barren County, but the populace is neither alarmed or agitated. It is calm in assurance that justice, sure, quick, terrible, will be meted McAlister.
“Circuit Judge Richardson has called a special grand jury to indict McAlister, and his trial will, in all probability take place here during the special term of Circuit Court beginning Monday. Sheriff Matthews, and Messrs. Barlow and Doyle returned McAlister to Glasgow for examining trial Tuesday. McAlister was taken before Judge Bohannon, and waived his trial. He was immediately returned to the Louisville jail by Sheriff Matthews. He will in all probability, be returned here for trial before Judge Richardson within the next 10 days.
“McAlister talked freely while here. He regretted the tragedy, but said it was either his life or the others. He claimed Dick Vance had a pistol in his hand; that Louis was after him and that he was drunk when the killing occurred. He said that he was sorry, but that he could go to the electric chair with ‘a clear conscience.’
“Capture of McAlister occurred at 6:30 Sunday afternoon, 18 July 1926, at his home on Knob Road about a mile and a half northwest of Glasgow, and a half mile from where Collins was killed.
Former Sheriff WH Barlow and city night-watchman Lacey Doyle affected his capture. They first searched McAlister’s house, and then went across the road to talk to neighbors. From this vantage point they spied McAlister in the door of his house. They immediately went to where he was and put him under arrest. A knife was taken from his pocket, and the shotgun he carried containing a single load of buckshot, was taken from him. The revolver used in the killing of Collins and the Vances had been discarded because of lack of ammunition.
“It developed later that at least 100 men had been close to him in the half-hour preceding his arrest. Jim Matthews passed within 10 ft., and came near losing his life when McAlister drew bead on him, but changed his mind before pulling the trigger. He noticed Pete Walkup, another hated enemy, and debated which of the 2 he would kill first. Thus both escaped the trap that was planned for them. After his capture, the posse was decoyed in another direction by a pistol shot, and McAlister was secreted in an auto by the roadside and was rushed to Louisville.
“McAlister was born and reared in Warren County, and moved to this county several years ago. He has a wife, Mrs. Ada McAlister, and 3 daughters: Lucille 15, Frances 12, Jewel 5, and a son Gillis McAlister.
“The shooting of Louis and Dick Vance occurred at the home of the latter about one mile north of town, at the Chapman old home place; just at the back of Henry Nunn’s, about 1:30 Sunday afternoon. The killing of Collins occurred only a few minutes later.
“At a chance meeting in town, Mack Smith was prevailed upon to drive McAlister to the Vance home. Smith said he intended leaving after a few minutes, and had no intention of staying for the party at the barn. The Vance boys and their families and a couple of neighbors had gathered at the Vance home. There was said to have been a supply of home brew in the barn. Smith left his auto and went to the barn. McAlister lingered behind and, according to Smith took the key from the car. When Smith later returned to the car and found this out, he cut off the gasoline supply and returned to the party at the barn.
“At the barn, McAlister met the wife of Louis Vance. Vance, it is claimed, became angered at McAlister over something that passed between his wife and the slayer. An argument ensued, but Mrs. Vance quieted it down, and Mr. Vance sat down on the door sill. Smith, a witness to the argument, sensed trouble and left the scene, for he expected McAlister to kill Vance. He had only retreated a few yards when he heard the pistol shots that snuffed out the life of Louis Vance, and finally resulted in death for Dick Vance.
“Dick Vance, who up to this time, had not joined in the argument, stepped from a stall door. Apparently, without cause or provocation, McAlister now in a big rage, turned the gun on him. He was wounded in the head and chest, and died at 11:00 Monday morning without regaining consciousness. In his delirious moments, he repeatedly referred to the fact that there was a falling out between Louis Vance and McAlister.
“Pivoting, McAlister shot Louis Vance through the heart, killing him instantly. Both men fell within 5 feet of one another, and neither was over 5 or 6 ft. from McAlister when he began shooting. McAlister then laid Louis Vance out, crossed his hands, and again shot him as he lay dead on the ground. He bathed the face of Dick Vance, and then returned to the Smith car. He tried the key he had stolen earlier in the day, but the car failed to run. This enraged him all the more, and he came back to the house and threatened to kill anyone there making a sound or sending for aid. He then set out across the field south, in the direction of the lower Cave City Road.
“Smith afterward returned to the scene of the tragedy. He firmly believed McAlister intended murdering him after doing away with Vance to get the use of his car to make his get-away. Smith said McAlister had threatened him, but Smith warned him off and left just before the shooting.
“After killing the two Vance boys, McAlister made straight for Joe Thomas’ home a half-mile to the south, on direct line, and on the Jacksonville Road. It was the first house to the left going from town just after reaching the top of the hill. He entered the house from the front, and took his stand behind the partition that separated the front and rear rooms. Here he awaited Sheriff Matthews and Policeman Collins, who were hot on his trail.
“Before their arrival, Thomas had requested McAlister to get out. Thomas said McAlister then cursed him and said he was ‘not going anywhere.’ He had his gun in hand at the time, and Thomas walked out the door without further argument. Thomas and his wife then ran to the roadside and warned the officers of McAlister’s frame of mind. Policeman Collins, pistol in hand, entered the house, and he was shot down. The bullet, from a .32 Smith & Wesson, cut his jugular vein, entering his body from the side and ranging upward.
“Sheriff Matthews assisted the stricken man to the roadside where he slumped down and died in a few seconds. Other shots were fired in the direction of Collins and Matthews, but they went wild. Sheriff Matthews then returned to town, reported Collins’ death, and organized a posse to search for the murderer.
“After a few minutes, the murderer came from the house, saw the body of Collins, then disappeared into the woods at the back of the Thomas place. He was evidently headed toward his home on Knob Road, near where he was later captured by Barlow and Doyle. Sheriff Matthews organized a posse of 150 men, armed them with pistols and Army rifles, and sent them forth to ‘beat the woods’ for the murderer. Bloodhounds from Smith’s Grove were also brought up but, because of the large number of the posse, McAlister’s trail could not be found. Houses were searched, and the woods and fields were combed.
“Policeman Harry Collins had been on the Glasgow Police force for 7 years. He was industrious and a remarkably efficient officer. He was absolutely without fear, and this unfailing fearlessness was the cause of his tragic death. Collins knew McAlister as a dangerous and desperate character, but this did not deter him from entering the house where the murderer awaited him with a cocked pistol.
“Harry Collins had been called upon numerous times to demonstrate his remarkable nerve and bravery. He killed Evans Bowman, notorious gunfighter, in Glasgow several years before, even though Bowman fired the first shot. Collins was ambushed by ‘Bluke’ Campbell, a colored man, in ‘the Kingdom,’ and he shot it out with him. Campbell made his escape, never to return.
“The city of Glasgow and the law enforcement suffered irreparable loss in the death of this brave officer. His mother, Mrs. WH Collins, to whom he was devotedly attached, survives. The following sisters and brothers also survive:
“Mrs. WE Nunn, Glasgow; Mrs. Dora Collins Smith of Cleveland OH; Mrs. JW Settle, Glasgow; Mrs. HL Patterson, Amarillo TX; Mrs. AJ Powell, Nashville; Messrs. Stanley and Earl Collins, Evansville IN; and Hubert Collins of Louisville.
“The parents of the Vance boys, John and Sarah Clark Vance, survive them, also 3 sisters – Mrs. GW Cox (Gertie) of New Salem; Mrs. Jack Groce of Oleoak; and Mrs. Ernest Dossey, Glasgow. The wife of Louis Vance and 3 small children survive him. Dick Vance leaves 4 motherless children without home or love of parents!”
On an ending note, Arthur McAlister died in 1940 at La Grange, KY, where one of the state correctional facilities is located. Harry Collins, Dick and Louis Vance, and Arthur McAlister are all buried in the Glasgow Municipal Cemetery.


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 Triple Homicide – Final Chapter of Jacksonville – 1926

  1. Gclee says:

    Obit June 2, 1927 Glasgow Daily Times

    Death of Mrs. M’Allister Last Chapter of Tragedy
    Was Wife of Barren County’s Triple Slayer; Three Children In Care of Relatives In This County
    Death of Mrs. Arthur McAllister at her home near town Tuesday, closed chapter on a sad, sad, story.

    Mrs. McAllister, triple murderer now in the Frankfort penitentiary. She was also mother of three children, with true fortitude, and uncomplaining, she stuck by her husband, and her children. But the burden of caring for the children was too great and, after brave attempt, she passed on to reward. The children are now in custody of relatives.

    Poor childen! They suffer. And know not why. They are victims of circumstances, and are entitled to better than even chance.

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