One of the most, maybe *the* most sensational crimes
Kentucky history is the bizarre saga of Pearl Bryan
|Scott Jackson||Alonzo Walling|
Scene of Pearl Bryan Murder
Alexandria Jail where they held Jackson and Walling
“The citizens of Alexandria, to which
Jackson and Walling were removed, are
circulating a petition to Judge Helm asking that the execution be held in their town.”
from the Richmond, Kentucky, Climax, March 10, 1897
Jackson and Walling, the hanging.
|These five pictures are all from the Mysterious murder of Pearl Bryan, or, The headless horror: a full account of the mysterious murder known as the Fort Thomas tragedy, from beginning to end ; full particulars of all detective and police investigations ; dialogues of the interviews between Mayor Caldwell, Chief Deitsch and the prisoners. It's from 1896.|
|Pearl Bryan||Alonzo Walling||Scott Jackson|
|L. D. Poock||The Lane on the Locke Farm||
Searching the Covington
|Pearl boarding a carriage|
|All of these illustrations are
from the Poock book. Poock was
the shoe salesman that identified
the shoe, and it's point of sale.
|At the Greencastle home||The Fort Thomas Mystery as
Solved Through the Shoes,
by L. D. Pock, illustrated
by J. N. Baker
|The House on 9th||Wilbur Wood||Walling||Jackson|
|The house on 9th Street in Cincinnati, home of Jackson and Walling.
These images all from New York's The Journal, of February 9, 1896, the full text of which is below. Pearl made national and international news coverage.
|David Calvin “Cal” Crim, who not only solved the mystery of Pearl Bryant, but also worked on the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.(Wikipedia) More details on Crim.|
Make no mistake, the scene of the crime was a huge tourist draw.
Sheet Music for Pearl Bryan
Folklorists, working with a collection of
old songs at Western Kentucky University, have
identified at least six different songs, with variations within those six, about Pearl Bryan.
You think Pearl Bryan wasn't a big story? This item from is the from
Launceston, Tasmania's Launceston Examiner from Augusts 13, 1896.
|One of the most interesting things we've read on the Pearl Bryan Tragedy is this piece by Robert Wilhelm, who has looked at the circumstances, and argues that there may, indeed, have been reason to look beyond Jackson and Walling, who were swung into eternity protesting their innocence, as the real killers.|
|If you want the full story on Pearl, from the man who's read the trial transcripts and interviewed the family, the book you want is Larry Tippin's The Betrayal of Pearl Bryan: Unraveling the Gilded Age Mystery that Captivated a Nation.|
|Pearl's story prompted a four-column, illustrated article in the New York Journal.|
|"Cincinnati, May 16. - The prisoners in the Newport, Ky. jail sawed the hinges off the rear door at 8 o'clock to-night, and all escaped except Jackson and Walling, the alleged murderers of Pearl Bryan, who refused to leave, thinking they might be lynched." The New York Times, May 17, 1896||"Robt. Laughlin, the wife-murderer, will be hanged Saturday at Brooksville, Ky. Laughlin, who is now confined to jail with Alonzo Walling and Scot Jackson, has agreed to come back in spirit form to the hanging of Jackson and Walling." from Paris' Bourbon County News, January 5, 1897|
|The Sheriff evaluates scaffolds for the upcoming hangings.|
|One man's memory of visiting the scene of the crime as a small boy, here.||"Independence, Ky., - Feb. 22 - Thos Hawkins, a wealthy young farmer hanged himself near here Thursday night. He went crazy from reading the accounts of the Pearl Bryan murder case." from the Maysville Public Ledger, February 22, 1896|
|An uncredited 100 page pdf, The Mysterious Murder of Pearl Bryan, or, the Headless Horror, from the Harvard Library.|
|Last and least: they found her head! On at least 7 different occasions.|
|February 29, 1896||September 27, 1897||August 18 and
August 22, 1902
|February 19, 1907|
|November 27, 1908||May 18, 1911||November 7, 1934|
|For the record, NKYViews doesn't believe any of these are really Pearl. We could be wrong. We also think this is an inordinately large number of found heads.|