Monday, February 16, 2015

Abigail Stephens - Murderer

Thomas Probert was the jailer in Mt. Sterling for ten years from approximately 1866 to his death in 1876. In researching this time period, one named jumped out. Abigail Stephens had been held in Thomas' jail for 152 days. She had been charged with murder, and Thomas was seeking reimbursement for costs associated with her incarceration.

In my blog post from two days ago, correspondent "Fair Play" complained that seventeen Mt. Sterling residents had been murdered with seemingly few consequences. He was seeking stricter enforcement of the law in a town where he felt human life was no longer valued. Among those listed in his complaint was Eveline Hubbard who was "killed with a hatchet."

Due to my love of historical newspapers, I had researched Abigail Stephens to see what was behind such a gruesome, hands-on murder. I didn't expect to find this result.

Reprinted from the Mt. Sterling Sentinel,
One of the most cruel and cold-blooded murders was committed in the upper portion,of this county on Sunday last that it has ever been our lot to chronicle. The particulars, as we learn them, as as follows:
Evaline Hubbard, a woman of easy virtue, lives on the Long Branch. on the road leading from the State road to Gatewood's old mill, in a settlement commonly called "Pennsylvania" and has for a neighbor George Stephens, who has for a wife a woman heretofore known by the name of Abigail Hedger, also a woman of bad character.
It seems, from all we can learn, that Stephens' wife has been for a long time jealous of the charms of Evaline for her husband, and catching her away from her house on the day named, just in the edge of the woods, attacked her with a hatchet, cutting her several times in the face and head, causing her death instantly, She then left her where she was found during the day, presenting a ghastly spectacle.
Mrs. Stephens was arrested and charged with the crime, which we are informed she acknowledged and exhibited the hatchet with which the work of death was performed; but , we are informed since then, she denies any knowledge of the affair. The case was to be tried before Esquire Bedford, sitting as an examining court, on Wednesday, but up to the time of going to press, we have not learned the result of this trial.
Unfortunately, it will require another trip to Mt. Sterling and a check of the Mt. Sterling Sentinel on microfilm to find out about Abigail's ultimate fate. I can't imagine being a woman in that jail. Today's jails would seem luxurious by comparison.

Source: Eastern Kentucky Tragedies: Particulars of Two Terrible Murders.
             Courier-Journal (1869-1922) [Louisville, Ky] 24 July 1874; 3.    

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