Friday, July 22, 2016

June 29, 1895: Abithal Colston and Mollie (Maud) Smith, cont.

Today we are revisiting a lynching that I first covered here with very little information. I have learned a lot since starting this blog and writing the original post so today I can give more information. Our first article comes to us through the pages of The Daily Democrat (Huntington, Indiana) dated July 2, 1895:


A Little Affair in Trigg County, Ky., Costs That Many Lives.


Seeking Out Witnesses Who Appeared Against Him He Kills Two—His Own Dead Body and That of His Mistress Found Later.

PADUCAH, Ky., July 2.—News was received here Monday of a bloody quadruple tragedy in a remote section of Trigg county last Friday night. John Rhodes and Chat Hammond were shot to death by Abithal Colston, an ex-convict, and the next morning the bodies of Colston and Mollie Smith, his mistress, were found in the road riddled with buckshot.

It seems that Colston, who was but recently released from the Frankfort penitentiary, where he had been sent for horse stealing, had ever since his release been gunning for all who had been witnesses against him. Among the witnesses were five brothers named Rhodes, and they were the first sought out by the ex-convict. Meeting John Rhodes at Rhodes' Landing he shot him down, instantly killing him. He then started for the other Rhodes boys, and not far from where he had shot John Rhodes, he saw Chat Hammond giving Al Rhodes a drink of water from a spring. This so exasperated Colston that instead of killing Rhodes as he had intended he killed Hammond. He then left Rhodes who was unarmed and went to where his mistress, Mollie Smith, lived. They spent part of the night in drunken carousel, and shortly after daylight both were found dead in the road. Whether they were shot by indignant citizens or by the Rhodes boys or their friends may never been known.

Our second article comes from the Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky) dated July 5, 1895:

The Fourth Victim not Dead.

John Rhodes, the first man shot by Abithal Colston at Golden Pond, Ky. last week, was still alive at last accounts. The woman who was killed by the pursuing posse that slew Colston was named Maud Smith. The posse was led by two of Rhodes' brothers. The facts were substantially as reported by the KENTUCKIAN. The tragedy grew out of the fact that Rhodes was a witness against Colston when he was sent to the penitentiary for stealing cattle. The Rhodes boys have surrendered.

The report mentioned in the above article is found in the July 2, 1895 edition of the Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky):


A Bloody Murder Speedily Avenged in Trigg County Thursday.

Particulars of a bloody affair in Trigg county last Thursday have just reached this city. It happened "between the rivers," near Golden Pond. An ex-convict named Colston, who served out a term for cattle stealing and was released about three months ago, was the principal actor. In a row over a woman named Colston, a relative of his, Colston shot and badly wounded a man named Rhodes, and went off to get another load of ammunition and when he returned found a young man named Hammond administering to the wounded man's needs in his helpless condition. Without a word he fired upon Hammond and killed him outright. Colston and the woman then fled together in a boat and a posse was soon organized to pursue them. The posse came upon them after they had left the boat and firing upon Colston killed him. The woman then seized Colston's gun and attempted to fire but she too was shot and killed before she could shoot the weapon. The desperado who was killed was a notorious tough. He was the same man who shot and wounded Wm. Wadlington some time ago while Wadlington was trying to arrest him. The woman who caused the trouble bore a very bad character and the death of both of them was a good riddance to the community. Hammond was a young man of good character. Rhodes was still alive at last accounts.

It is hard to know which article tells the truth. I think the Kentuckian's story rings truer in the fact that the motive for shooting Hammond seems more believable. It also makes more sense for the two to run than to go out drinking and it explains why the woman was with him.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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