Lynch Law in Boone

Joe Payne’s Dastardly Deed and its Results

Our usually quiet village was roused on Friday morning last by a report that a horrible outrage had been attempted by a negro named Joe Payne, at the time in the employ of Jacob R. Scott, about one mile west of Union, upon the person of his employer’s daughter, and young lady of eighteen or nineteen years old.  The report was soon confirmed, and it was soon known that the villain had escaped in a nude condition to the woods.  Armed men were soon hurrying in search through the fields and woods, but, although the search was kept up till night and a large scouting force kept out all night under the command of the Town Marshal, Payne was not found until the following (Saturday) morning, and then by accident.  Thos. L. Lancaster, accompanied by R. t. German, of Florence, were passing up the Florence and Walton, or Lexington pike, and, stopping at Marion Stephen’s, Lancaster repeated the story of the attempted outrage and the flight of the negro to Stephens, who immediately said, “There is a negro now in my barn answering the description.” Lancaster at once captured him and brought him to this place, arriving here about ten o’clock a.m. Mr. and Mrs. Scott and other members of their family were on the street at the time and at once recognized the prisoner, who indeed made no denial, but had at once answered to his name.   The excitement was at once roused to the highest pitch, and it looked as if he would be lynched on the spot, bit other counsel prevailed and he was taken charge of by the Marshal and his posse who removed him to the Town Hall, excluding all but the necessary guards, and at once took proper steps to have the examining trial.  Mr. R. C. Green, County Attorney, was notified, and on his arrival the court was held by Esq. H. Bannister and M. C. Norman.  

The Confession 

The prisoner made a confession to your correspondent and two other gentlemen, fully admitting his guilt, waived an examination, and was held to bail in the sum of one thousand dollars to await the action of the next term of the Criminal Court.  Within a few minutes after the trial the prisoner was placed in a wagon and, under a guard of five or six men, started to the jail in Burlington.  On the road there near Jonas Delph’s and within about two miles of the city, the party was overpowered by a body of disguised men and the prisoner taken from them and shot to death.   The above concise statement of facts was furnished to us by one among the most reliable citizens of Union.  As our correspondent was not cognizant of what transpired in this locality after the killing of the negro, we will take up the thread of narration where he stopped and detail the rest of the particulars.   Saturday the news of the above mentioned affair reached Burlington, as also did the report that the citizens of Union and vicinity were nearly frantic with excitement over the attempted outrage, and apprehensions were had that the excitement would ripen into a mob.  Upon Mr. Green’s return from Union, he reported that the negro was to start to jail as soon as possible.  About dusk a gentleman arrived from Union, stating he passed the prisoner and guards about three mils from town and they were coming on.  Still there seemed to prevail a belief that something would happen; so, after sufficient time for their arrival had elapsed, Esquire Kendall, accompanied by two or three others, started out the Union road to learn the whereabouts of the band.  They traveled until they reached Jonas Delph’s, when they became satisfied that something had happened.  They then commenced a close search, and in a few moments they discovered the dead body of the negro lying just in the edge of the woods at the point where the Gunpowder Association has for many years been held.  They immediately returned to town, and after counseling with the County Attorney, they returned, and built a rail pen around the body, and left it to avail the inquest, which was held Sunday.   Sunday morning Squire Kendall returned to the place where he left the body the night before, and found quite a large crown of persons, who, through curiosity, had been induced to congregate at that place.  The Squire summoned a jury; and was just ready to commence the inquest when Mr. Riley, the Marshal of Union and the officer who had the negro in charge, arrived.  Riley was sworn, and stated that when the mob assailed them, they came out of the woods before and behind them; the he, Riley, was jerked across the dashboard in the wagon; his horses took fright, and in the confusion he failed to recognize any of the mob; knew not how many there were, nor how many shots were fired.   Dr. J. F. Smith was sworn, and, upon an examination of the body, found six bullet holes, two in the back, one in the left breast in the region of the heart, two in the back of the head, and one at the top of the right ear.  There were no other marks of violence on the body.   The verdict of the jury was as follows:  “We, the jury, find that the body before us is that of Joseph Paine, colored, of Boone county, Kentucky, and that he came to his death by being shot and murdered by person or persons unknown to the jury.” M. C. Jackson, Foreman.   


From the Covington Journal of July 8, 1876, which acknowledges it’s reprinting the story from the Boone County Recorder of July 6.