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NATIVE KENTUCKY BALLADS / 032
The Execution of Simpson Bush

clippings transcribed by Steve Green


This ballad was composed by J. W. Day. Bush was hanged at Stanton, Kentucky (Powell County) in February, 1892 for killing his wife. The clippings below extracted from contemporary newspapers do not give much information about the crime or the criminal, but offer a start for further investigation.

Attention give while I relate, though horrible is the shame
I'll tell you of a doomed man, Bush they call his name
The court has sentenced him to death, the Judge says he must die
For the murder of his own dear wife, upon the gallows high.

They say he tried to drown her, but in that did not succeed
But with the fatal pistol he carried out the deed
The babe was in its mother's arms, Up to them he did creep
The demon pulled the trigger and killed her while asleep.

[He stepped] up to her bedside, [and] shot her through the head
The infant drank its mother's blood, while the woman lay there dead
They say that he was jealous when he done this cruel crime
He shall stand before his Maker and answer another time.

They say that he denied the charge but later has confessed
In Feb[ruary] he must hang, but we hope his wife's at rest
And oh! why did he do this—tis a question hard to tell
Oh! how he needs repentence to shun a burning hell.

It's true we are all but human, God's love surrounds our hearts
Our wives should be the greatest [tie] from Man that has to part
How hard it is to give her up, the husband then should say
Oh! what a consolation, to meet at the Judgment Day.


Crittenden Press (Marion, Ky) ~ November 5, 1891

BUSH WILL HANG.

He Protests His Innocence, and Says He Will Not Confess to Save His Life.

STANTON, Ky., Oct 29.— Simpson Bush, confined in the Stanton jail, sentenced to hang for the murder of his wife in Clay City, was considerably affected when I informed him that his case had been affirmed by the court of appeals.

He remarked that he was innocent of the charge, and is well prepared for death as he ever would be, and said he would not confess that he did the murder in order to get his sentence commuted to life imprionment; that he would not confess to a thing that he did not do. Bush, according to the sentence pronounced at the last term of the Powell Circuit court by Judge Riddell, will be hanged at a point near the jail in Stanton, on the 18th day of December next. Bush claims that either his wife or one of the other occupants in their room did the shooting. Should Bush hang it will be the first legal hanging ever done in Powell county, Ky.


The account next day in the Hazel Green Herald was modeled closely on the story in the Crittenden Press above but was taken out of the first person.


Hazel Green Herald ~ November 6, 1891

HE WILL HANG.

Simpson Bush to be Executed at Stanton in December.

Simpson Bush, confined in the Stanton jail and sentenced to hang for the murder of his wife in Clay City, was considerably affected last week when informed that the decision in his case had been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. He remarked that he is innocent of the charge, and is well prepared for death as he ever will be, and he said he would not confess that he did the murder in order to get his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, and that he would not confess to a thing that he did not do. Bush, according to the sentence pronounced at the last term of the Powell Circuit court, by Judge Riddell, will be hanged at a point near the jail in Stanton on December 14 next. Bush claims that either his wife or one of the other occupants in their room did the shooting. Should Bush hang it will be the first legal hanging ever done in Powell county.


Saint Paul Daily Globe ~ February 5, 1892

KENTUCKY HANGINGS.

Two Woman Killers and "Ragback Bill" to Swing Today.

CINCINNATI, Feb. 4.—Robert Charleton, a negro, will be hanged at Henderson, Ky., about noon tomorrow. His crime was that of killing his mistress, Minnie Martin, last September, because she refused to give him money with which to gamble. At Clay City, Ky., at the same hour, Simpson Bush will be hanged for the murder of his wife in June, 1890. The woman had been married eighteen months and was sleeping with a four-months-old baby in her arms when Bush shot her. An effort was made to make it a case of suicide, but it failed, and Bush narrowly escaped lynching at the time. William Pucket, a hunchback, known as "Ragback Bill," will be executed at Irvine, Ky., simultaneously with Charleton and Bush, for the murder of Henry Hall during an election Nov. 4, 1890.


San Francisco Morning Call ~ February 6, 1892

LOUISVILLE, Feb. 5.—At Clay City Sampson Bush was hanged to-day for the murder of his wife. Bush made a short address warning young men against keeping bad company.


Saint Paul Daily Globe ~ February 6, 1892

THREE SWUNG OFF.

Kentucky Towns Have a Hanging Match.

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Feb. 5.—At Clay City Simpson Bush was hanged at 11 o'clock today for the murder of his wife. Fifty spectators were admitted. Bush made a short address, warning young men against keeping bad company. He said he did not kill his wife, but had taken part in so many smaller misdeeds that no one believed him. he was pronounced dead in ten minutes.


Mount Sterling (Ky) Advocate ~ February 9, 1892

Friday, Kentucky sent three of her citizens to the other world by the rope [?]. Simpson Bush was executed at Stanton for slaying his wife; William Puckett, at West irvine, for killing William Hall and Robert Charlton, colored, for the murder of his mistress. Not a bad days work.


Breckenridge News (Cloverport, Ky) ~ February 10, 1892

Last Friday was a good day for hangings in this state. Simpson Bush was executed at Stanton, for slaying his wife, William Pucket at West Irvine, for killing William Hall and Robert Charlton, colored, at Henderson, for the murder of his mistress.


Lexington (Ky) Leader ~ February 11, 1892

HANGED.

Three Kentucky Murderers Step Down and Out.

Simon Bush Falls Through a Trap at Stanford. [sic]

Robert Charlton Pays the Extreme Penalty.

At Henderson, As Does William Puckett at Irvine.

Big Crowds Witness the Executions Despite the Fact That all of Them Are Private—What Crimes Were Committed to Visit the Vengeance of the Law on the Trio of Bloodshedders Today.

Special to the Leader.

STANTON, Ky., Feb. 5.—This quiet little mountain town, the county seat of Powell county, witnessed today its first execution administered by the stern hand of the law. The morning dawned with a slow drizzling rain falling, and clouds and a heavy mist enveloped the mountain tops. The inclemency of the weather no doubt kept away a great many persons, though in spite of the drizzling rain, an immense crowd of eager spectators assembled to witness the execution, led on by a morbid desire to see a poor wretched fellow creature pushed off into the great unknown. The hanging was set for 2 o'clock.

The crime for which Simon Bush [sic] paid the awful retribution today was one a parallel of which the criminal history of Kentucky has rarely known. It was a crime, indeed, "most unnatural."

At Clay City, four miles from here, lived Simon Bush and his wife, Anna, with one child, a boy four months old at the timeof its mother's death. At Bush's house a man named Smith and another person passed the night of the 22nd of February, 1890, sleeping in the same room with the murderer and his victim.

These men were aaroused from their slumbers about 5 o'clock in the morning by the report of a pistol, and on examination they found Bush lying at the foot of the bed, and the wife at the head with a bullet hole through her left temple, and the young child quietly sleeping on her right arm.

Bush stated that he knew nothing of the matter, and claimed to think that his wife committed suicide, but during the trial and since, both in conversation and in his testimony on the witness stand, his statements left no doubt of guilt. He was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to be hanged.


Hazel Green Herald ~ February 12, 1892

Simpson Bush was hung at Stanton on Friday last for the murder of his wife at Clay City, June 30, 1890. Wm. Puckett was executed at Irvine on the same day for beating to death Wm. Hall at the last November election, and Robert Charlton was hanged at Henderson for the murder of his mistress.

 

 


Last Update: August 26, 2011