|Death: ||Mar. 13, 1852|
s/o Jane Southern and Jesse Hill - married Jul 1827 in Garrard County, KY to Lucy Murphy - Killed by John Sellers in Hill-Evan Feud.
A Family Feud
How They Quarrel in Garrard County, Kentucky
A Bloody Contest Lasting Twenty-three Years
Peace Restored by the Extinction of Nearly All Concerned
Lancaster, Ky, Dec 21. Should the complete history of Garrard County, Kentucky, be ever written, a large portion of it must be allotted to a recital of deeds of violence, sometimes the acts of outlaws and desperadoes, sometimes riots, and at others the conflicts of factions and family feuds, protracted through a series of years. In many respects the most remarkable of these family vendettas is known as the Hill and Evans feud, so-called from the men who were the heads of the respective parties engaged. It was maintained through a long series of years; many lives were lost in the numerous battles, and much misery entailed upon innocent parties. The origin of this feud was trivial, and occurred as far back as 1829. There were living on the waters of Sugar Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River, two families, one named Hill and other Evans. John Hill was the head of one and Dr. Hezekiah Evans of the other. John Hill owned a blacksmith's shop, in which the workmen were his negro slaves. He was a man of some property, and his connections by marriage were highly respectable. He had been made administrator of an estate left to some orphans, and in that capacity hired a negro woman to Dr. Evans as a house servant. After a service of a few months, she returned to Capt. Hill and complained that Dr. Evans abused her and beat her, and begged to be hired to someone else. Capt. Hill determined to return the servant and expostulate with him upon his conduct. On the way he stopped at the blacksmith's shop. While he was in the smith the woman espied Dr. Evans coming down the creek on horseback, and called out saying: "Massa Hill, Dr. Evans is coming down the creek now. Don't let him beat me." The Doctor came up very angry, and was raising his stick to strike, when Capt. Hill who was also carrying a heavy hickory stick, shouted to him not to strike that woman; if he did, he would whip him. Evans, not heeding the threat, tried the strength of his cudgel on the woman's head, at which Hill used his stick upon the Doctor's cranium and knocked him from his horse. This blow gave rise to a lawsuit, in which Evans sued for damages on account of his broken head, and obtained a verdict of one cent and costs. The Doctor was bitterly resentful at this termination of the affair, and, while he took frequent occasion to express his bitterness in words, the two men never afterward had any hostile encounter.
Not long after this incident a cause of quarrel arose between Dr. Evans and another family of the Hills, distantly connected with the other, and living in the immediate neighborhood. The head of this family was named Jesse. He had four sons – Isaiah, Frederick, Russell and Jesse Jr. Dr. Evans had, at a time when friendly relations existed between the parties, been appointed executor of the grandfather of these boys. They claimed that in the settlement of the estate he had defrauded them, and out of this grew the hostility which entailed much bloodshed. The bad feeling thus engendered slumbered for fifteen or twenty years, ready, however, at any moment to break out in open rupture. In the year 1849 a political barbecue was given at the house of Frederick Hill. Dr. Evans attended it, and remained until night. A good deal of whiskey was imbibed. Before he left the ground he was assaulted by Jesse Hill and others of the party, and so badly bruised and beaten that he was an invalid for months, and when convalescent was forced to move about for some time on crutches. He had several sons, who were now old enough to appreciate the troubles into which their father had plunged, and as they were endowed with the same combative disposition, they entered into the quarrel.
The two parties were well armed with rifles and small arms. They had frequent collisions, and exchanged shots upon the highway, but no life was lost until the following year, 1850. At the march term of the Garrard Circuit Court the late Judge Robertson, Chief Justice of Kentucky, was announced to deliver a political speech at the Court House. Among those in attendance were Dr. Evans and his sons, Samuel and Thomas, and several of the Hill party, including Jesse Hill. In the afternoon a quarrel arose in the Court House yard between Jesse Hill and Sam Evans. It appears that the Doctor expected an attack, and had posted his sons as pickets. When he was informed of the quarrel, he ran out of the Court House and leveled his revolver at Jesse Hill, shot him dead, putting three bullets into his body. An effort was made to arrest him, but he escaped to his own house where he defied authorities to take him by force. Fearing the gathering of the Hill clan as an auxiliary to the Sheriff's possee, Dr. Evans concluded that safety lay in flight; so he departed in the night and made his way to Indiana, where he thought to remain until the little breeze should blow over.
This tragedy exasperated the Hill party, who organized and armed themselves with formidable weapons. Old John Hill, who had had the first difficulty with Hezekiah Evans, in 1829, having died, his son Dr. Oliver P. Hill, became the head of that branch of the family. He became actively interested in the quarrel, and thereafter became a conspicuous figure in it. During the absence of Dr. Evans in Indiana, an almost continual warfare was kept up between the opposing forces on the creek, their respective dwelling houses being alternately besieged. The farms of Dr. Evans and Russell Hill adjoined, and as a consequence of the constant effort at the destruction of each other, the men did little work upon the farms. If one of them attempted anything of that sort he was obliged to keep his rifle within easy reach, and have others on guard to give notice of the enemy.
In May 1850, a few months after the killing of Jesse Hill, a party of the Evans factions, headed by Sam and Tom Evans, and a party of the Hills met in the town of Lancaster, on the public square, and a bloody fight ensued. The result of the battle was the cutting of Tom Evans so terribly that is life was despaired and the wounding of Frederick, Russell and William Hill and Henry Sagracy with pistol balls. They were shot in the shoulder, the balls ranging downward, as though someone had been firing upon them from a window above. After this affray Dr. Evans returned, had an examination trial for murder of Jesse Hill, and was discharged. The Grand Jury afterward refused to indict him. Tom Evans recovered, and became once more an effective soldier. As none of the others died from their wounds, the effective fighting strength of both sides remained as before. Meeting frequently on the creek, they fought as often as they met, but with no serious results.
The next serious encounter between the hostiles was at a point known as Scott's Fork on Sugar Creek. The road ran along side of the stream, the bed or bottom being about fifty yards wide. On a rising piece of the ground, on the farm of Dr. Evans, about sixty yards from the road, was a tobacco house. In the year 1852, one of the Hill party, named John Brown, desired to move his family and furniture from Isaiah Hill's place, but as it was attended with danger, the Hills furnished him with an escort, the whole thing being under the command of Dr. Hill. There were Frederick, Russell and Jesse, a son of the man who had been killed by the old Dr. Evans. The two last were mere boys, and were employed to drive the teams. Dr. Hill rode in the rear of the train with Mrs. Brown. The members of the part were well armed with rifles and pistols. At the same time there in the tobacco house were William Chrisman and John Sellers engaged in the pricing of tobacco. They had seen Brown's friends going up the creek, and prepared to meet them on their return. Two men named James Alverson and Samuel Sellers went to the tobacco house and the building barricaded and put in readiness for a siege.
When the Hill party returned, just as they were opposite the tobacco house, two shots were fired upon them from the log house and Russell Hill fell dead. Dr. Hill, at once, ordered a charge, claiming that if they did not do so, they would all be killed. The boys left the wagons, armed themselves, and the charge was made upon the house with impetuosity. John Sellers killed Isaiah Hill as he was climbing the fence. James Hill, one of the boys, was wounded. John Sellers opened the door and ran out of the house and secreted himself behind a large tobacco hogshead, the better to operate. He fired several times at young Jesse, but without effect. The boy returned the fire. One ball from his pistol struck the top of one of the staves of the hogshead, and the splinters, striking Sellers in the eyes, so blinded him that he turned to run, when the boy shot him between the shoulders, killing him instantly. Chrisman was still in the tobacco house into which Frederick Hill charged. A ball from Chrisman's pistol took off a lock of hair from the top of his head, but the man went on. Chrisman seized a Bowie knife to strike. It fell from his hand, and Frederick Hill seizing it killed his antagonist with it. Meantime, Sam Sellers and James Alverson had retreated to a neighbor's house. They were fired at as they ran. John Brown shot Alverson in the arm, shattering it to pieces and making him a cripple for life. He also shot Sellers across the abdomen, the ball passing through the abdominal covering, but without entering the cavity. He recovered. Their lives were spared at the earnest entreaties of Dr. Hill, who did not think that they had had any part in the fight, or had gone there to take part in it.
The result of this engagement was four men killed and three wounded. The affair created so much noise throughout the State that the people held a public meeting in Lancaster to devise some plan for putting an end to the unfortunate warfare. It resulted in nothing beneficial. The fighting went on as before.
Numerous skirmishes were had, but no killing until, in the May following the Scott's Fork tragedy, Sam and Tom Evans encountered James Hill and Nelson Southerland near the same place, and fired upon them. Southerland was instantly killed, and James was badly wounded, but he succeeded in making his escape under a sharp fire. For this the Evans boys were indicted, and some time afterward, when they thought it was prudent, they surrendered, and were placed in jail. When the day was set for the trial, in the town of Lancaster, Dr. Evans was expected with his retinue to attend, and, of course, to pass the residence of Dr. Hill. The latter gathered about him and his party, consisting of Frederick, Jesse and James Hill.
Dr. Evans came along with his party, with which were mingled citizens who had nothing to do with the fight. The Hills were in ambush. When Dr. Evans passed he was riding between two of these parties. He had just passed Dr. Hill's gate when a rifle-ball pierced the lapel of his coat, at which he beat a hasty retreat. Jesse May, who was the most obnoxious person on the other side, received a ball from either Murphy or Dr. Hill, both of who fired at him, and he died at the side of the road. One of the Evans party, named Samuel Gordon, jumped the fence and ran in a stooping position up the slope, intending to take the Hills in the rear. A ball from Dr. Hill's rifle skimmed along Mr. Gordon's back, cutting through his coat and vest, and snapping his suspenders. He found it convenient to go the way he came.
Daniel and Joe Murphy surrendered to the Sheriff in the evening, had an examining trial, obtained bail, and departed. The Doctor found a safe retreat at the house of one Mr. Vaughan, in Jefferson county. The Doctor afterward returned, and was tried and acquitted.
The next affray was again at Dr. Hill's gate. Sam Evans came along on horseback, with a blanket over his head, leaving his nose only exposed. He met the Doctor as he was about to enter his yard, and fired at him. He suspected some treachery, and being ready, immediately returned the fire. Neither hit his man.
On occasion of the funeral of Henry Clay, in 1852, Dr. Hill went to Lexington and stopped at the old Megowan house. Sam Evans followed him there, and stopped at the same hotel. In the evening the Doctor was standing on the pavement, in conversation with a friend, when Sam Evans approached to within three feet of him and opened fire. The Doctor returned the fire, scaring some horses and ladies in carriages but without doing any damage to his adversary, who had beaten a retreat.
Peter Denton, on the Hill faction, was afterward killed in Lexington by one of his old enemies from Sugar Creek.
The contending factions were now becoming exhausted. Their feud had cost much blood and money, besides many valuable lives, and they were disposed to come to terms. Some sort of agreement was entered into, and Joe Murphy came back to the county. One evening he was sitting in what is now known as the Jones Hotel, in Lancaster, when Jack and Bill May, brothers of the man who Murphy had helped kill, walked in and dispatched him with a couple of shots from a revolver.
Dr. O. P. Hill, in order to be removed from the scene of the troubles, moved to Oregon in 1853, and from there went to California. He did not return until March, 1855.
In 1861, when the War broke out, Dr. Evans warmly espoused the cause of the South. When Gen. Bragg came into Kentucky, the Doctor made frequent visits to Camp Dick Robinson to meet the Confederates. One night, on his return from the camp, he was assassinated near the house of Mr. Tim Ford in Garrard County.
Two of the Hills-young James and Jesse-moved down to Jefferson and Washington Counties, and worked on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. One night during the War, they were both killed in their hut. A noted desperado named Hercules Walker was charged with the deed. In his trial, which came off at Shelbyville, Dr. Evans took such an interest in favor of the prisoner that he was subjected to grave suspicion. Walker was acquitted, but he was afterward killed by the Federal guerrilla, Edward Terrell.
Of all those who participated in the terrible scenes only one survives, Dr. O.P. Hill, who is a practicing physician still in Lancaster, and much respected by the people. Sam and Tom Evans moved to Texas. The other members of the Evans family who are still living on Sugar Creek took no part in the feud, possibly from the fact that they were too young at the time. It was a veritable Kilkenny-cat fight. While it lasted the officers of justice were powerless to suppress the lawlessness. Perhaps the most effectual way to put an end to it, after all, was to let them exhaust themselves.
Lucy Murphy Hill (1807 - 1850)*
Mary Jane Hill Simpson (1835 - 1919)*
Isaiah Hill (1839 - 1919)*
Note: killed by John Sellers
Created by: Find Me If You Can
Record added: Dec 15, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 7013336
RIP You are my 4th Generation Great Uncle. Your brother, Frederick, was my Great Grandfather's, Ezra Walker Hill's Great Grandfather. Just found you this year 2015.|
Added: Mar. 2, 2015
To Isaiah Hill my 3rd great uncle. Rest in Peace.|
Added: Jul. 6, 2014
TO MY 5TH GREAT-GRANDFATHER. WITH ALL MY LOVE; MAY WE MEET IN HEAVEN.|
Added: Apr. 24, 2011
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