The Spring of '08

If you are not familiar with what the Night Rider movement was all about, we encourage you to first read this.

On March 5, 1908, Owenton's News-Herald ran this article making fun of some local citizens who over-reacted to the threat of Night Riders.  Night Riders had never been spotted in Owen County, so it was treated with levity.  However, a week later, in the March 12, 1908 paper, was a report of 50 night riders burning down a pair of barns in New Liberty.  That News Herald article is here; the Lexington Leader's similar story is here.

The March 19, 1908 paper carried the results of a quickly assembled grand jury, and a more detailed report of the New Liberty raid.  The city council also weighed in, here. The Boone County Recorder had this to say. The grand jury report found no evidence to indict anybody, and the report was printed in full in the paper.  You can read it here.

The next week, March 26, found the main story in the paper to be the burning of two large tobacco warehouses in Owenton. There is doubt in this story, and expressed more strongly in a subsequent paper on April 4, that this was the work of the Night Rider movement.  The March 26th story from the News-Herald is here; the Lexington Leader's story is here

A second grand jury convened in June of 1908 also failed to return any indictments.  When you consider that there were an estimated fifty riders in the New Liberty raid, and that all of those riders likely had relatives and friends in the county who were sympathetic to the movement, the odds of getting a grand jury to convict Night Riders was, in Owen County, like most other counties in Kentucky, pretty slim as demonstrated in this article is from the July 2, 1908 News Herald.

July 8, 1908 found Ira Slater's barns burned near Harrisburg. They called out the tracking dogs, but the dogs found nothing.

There was also an incident the previous January, in which anonymous letters indicated African-Americans would have to leave the county. The attitude was from time to time associated with the night riders, but Owen officials discounted it, and nothing that NKY Views knows of became of it.