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Devil Jim Turner


The Sheriff of Clay county and a party of four armed men arrived in the city yesteday, having in charge two men named James Turner and Francis Pace, said, to be men of the most desperate character. The immediate cause of their arrest was the murder, in 1872, of two men named Middleton and Fields, whom they waylaid at night on the public highway. The history of Turner is one of a very startling nature. Although of good family and in easy circumstances, yet his love for deeds of cruelty was such that he disregarded all laws of society in gratifying his savage passions. During the war he became the leader of a band of gurillas, who harrassed and murdered in cold blood all Souther sympathizers on whom they could lay hands. In Harlan County, on the Virginia line, lived an old man named James Middleton, a respectable old citizen, whose sons, David and William, enlisted in the Southern army. In 1878, Turner, with his bushwhackers, scoured that county. For fear of their attacks, and knowing their desperate character, old Middleton left his home and fled into Lee county, Virginia. They heard of his retreat, and, following, captured him and brought him back to Harlan county, Kentucky, on the Virginia line, where they put him to death in the most cruel manner. Tying him to a tree they cut off his nose and ears, and tore off his nails, besides otherwise mutilating his person, after which they sat around him, watching him slowly die of his suffering, the object of their jests and most inhuman torture. In the same year David and William Middleton, learning of the frightful death of their father, returned to their homes in Harlan, ben on revenge. Here Turner succeeded in killing David Middleton, and then escaped with his band from the vicinity pursued by a party of Southern troops, who heard of his depredations and were in search of him. He is charged with many other murders, amounting in all to thirteen. One of his victims was the Sheriff of Lee county, Virginia, whom he caused to be stripped and buried alive in a mud hole. Until the close of the war Turnerís name was a terror to the country over which he and his band of outlaws roamed at will, killing or maltreating the defenseless, but avoiding always a conflict with a body of armed men like themselves. Their deeds were dark and bloody, and many a tale of horror is told along the Virginia and Kentucky line of Turnerís bloodthirsty bushwhackers. There are t hose in this city at the present time, who served in the Army of Virginia at the period of which we write, and who recollect the terror which the very name of Turner inspired in the bosoms of those who were compelled to remain in the counties subject to his raids. He apared not women or children, and no one was ever known to experience mercy at his hands. After the war, Turner returned to his home in Lee county, where he went to work as a farmer and amassed quite a forturne. It is said that he is now worth $10,000. He could not refrain, however, from deeds of violence, and more then once had to flee from his home to avoid the officers of justice. In 1872 William Middleton accompanied by a man named Fields, traveling on horseback, came to the place where Turner lived. At the public inn Turner learned the direction the travelers were to follow, and taking with him Francis Pace, they lay in ambush for them. Building a fire in the road, they took their places in the brush, and as the men passed on horseback, and came into the light, the concealed murderers opened fire with fatal effect. This last outrage so shocked the community and enraged them to such an extent that they rose in arms and pursued the murderers until captured. They were carried in irons to Clay county, to await trail, under a strong guard the while. Finding it impossible to try them at the last term of the Clay Circuit Court, and it being too expensive to keep guard over them for several months, the authorities sent them to the jail at Lexington until October, when their trial will come off, and they will be delivered once more to the Sheriff of Clay county. Here no rescues are possible, and Judge Lynch has no power over the jailer, so that it is likely, when the proper time arrives, they will be handed over to the proper officers to meet their deserts at the hands of that justice they so foully outraged. Lexington, (ky.) Press, July 1st.