Only A Tramp

Meager particulars of a killing which occurred near Worthville, a small station on the Short Line Division of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad about fifty miles from Louisville, have reached this city. 

The affray occurred about 10 o’clock yesterday morning.  The victim was an unknown tramp, and his assailant is J. M. Richards, a brakeman on freight train #71, southbound.   Early yesterday morning two tramps made their appearance in Worthville – a white man of slovenly appearance and a disreputable looking colored man.  They were hanging around the railroad station when a fire broke out in a frame residence nearby.  

Worthville is unprovided with a Fire Department, so a bucket brigade was making little headway with the flames when the white tramp volunteered his services, and took the management of the fire.  He handles his men so skillfully and worked so wonderfully himself, that hot flames were soon subsided, and with comparatively little loss.  The grateful citizens at once took up a collection for the brave volunteer, and presented him with a five dollar bill to pay his way to Louisville, whither he said he was tramping.  Freight train No. 71 passed through Worthville a few minutes later, and the two tramps disappeared. 

About half an hour afterward the colored tramp was seen running up the track, and informed those gathered around the depot that his partner had been murdered by a brakeman at a point about a mile below the city.  A crowd went to the scene and found the body of the tramp lying on the side of the track with a bullet through his head.  The freight train had passed on.  The town marshall organized a posse and express train No. 51, which passed through about that time, and overtook the freight at Barnes, nine miles below, at 10:45 o’clock. 

Richards surrendered himself and confessed to firing the fatal shot.  He said he caught two men riding between two cars.  He had attempted to make them get off, but they showed fight, and he had fired at the white man to frighten him.  He had no intention of shooting him.  He had told a similar story to the conductor at the time the shooting occurred but the colored man was the only witness.  A strong sympathy for the murdered man had been worked up in Worthville by the remembrance of his heroic service at the fire, and when the marshal returned to that place with his prisoner there were threats of mob violence.  Wise counsel prevailed and Richards is in prison.


Cincinnati Enquirer, February 7, 1892, reprinting an item from the Louisville Courier-Journal of February 6, 1892.