This is an introduction to the legend of “The Killing Rock.” This series will be a multi-part production about the mysteries surrounding the Pound Gap Massacre which occurred on May 14th, 1892. We first began researching the Killing Rock well over ten years ago with the intention of doing a simple story telling video.
While doing the preliminary research we were hit with several inconsistencies and contradictions within the story itself. Wanting to be as accurate as possible in our rendition of the tale, we decided that we had to research each of the inconsistencies and try to resolve as many of the contradictions as possible. To say the least, this has not been an easy task.
Ten Year Journey
Over the past ten years, more information about the Pound Gap Massacre has been made available. This information comes to us in multiple forms which includes newly digitized copies of court records, newspapers, books, government documentation and corporate files. Most importantly we now have more information about certain events which occurred leading up to the Massacre as well as some of the people who were involved in them, both directly and indirectly.
We now know more about the people who were murdered, those who survived, and who all six of the suspects were. We even have more information about the four men who were indicted for the crime. And lastly, we know more about events that occurred after the Killing Rock that were a direct result of the tragedy.
The Side Trails
Although we have been researching and gathering information on “The Pound Gap Massacre” for over ten years we MUST state that we are not a definitive source of information. Like any historical event there are always holes in the information.
History is like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, as such we know what the overall picture is even if we are missing a few details. When the missing pieces are small, historians look at the surrounding pieces of the puzzle and try to fill in the gap. These “educated guesses” are often very accurate with only minor discrepancies. The process is the same when larger areas are missing, we still make our best educated guess but often as the pieces are found we are surprised to discover things that were completely unexpected.
That being said, we truly are living in the age of information. New evidence is coming to light each, and every day even if we are not immediately notified of it. Personal and public libraries are being digitized and made available to the public at an astonishing rate. Check back often as we update our information as soon as we become aware of an update to our sources.
Saturday, May 14, 1892, was a typical warm spring day on Little Elkhorn Creek. But that afternoon a mass murder would occur that would rival anything written by Steven King or Agatha Christie. Some think the murders are solved and that justice was served, others think the accused were innocent of the crime.
After the sound of gunfire faded away and the smoke had cleared, the lives of at least a dozen families were forever changed. Five people and two horses were slain. Two people had escaped with their lives, one of which just barely as one of his suspenders had been shot through. These “eyewitnesses” would later give conflicting stories of the event. Initially there were two suspects based upon evidence found at the scene of the massacre. Eventually six suspects were named of which four were indicted including three that were a total shock to the community.
Breaking National News
At the time, Newspapers from across the country ran front-page headlines and articles about the event. So much so that it became the biggest mystery and who done it in America. There was so much national interest in the story that newspapers from around the nation would continue to feature articles about the massacre, the investigation, and those who were eventually charged with the crime for the next three years.
It was such a national controversy that it would rival the Hatfield and McCoy Feud. The feud lasted several years and would eventually result in a Supreme Court trial. That trial would change the laws concerning bounty hunters. The Killing Rock, or The Pound Gap Massacre has been tried and retried in the court of public opinion for 130 years. This is because in the trial of Doc Taylor, he pleaded innocent, the prosecution failed to establish a motive, and even in the court of public opinion no clear motive for the crime has ever been discovered.
There are dozens of conflicting stories about the massacre, the victims, and those charged with the crime. What we know for certain is that Ira Mullins was in Kentucky that week due to a court case over land.
What is not Heavily Disputed
That morning, they packed up to move Ira and Louanza back to their home at Pound, Virginia. We know that they left at 10 o’clock that morning but did not reach the site of the massacre until 1 pm as they had made several stops along the way. Including one to meet Jane and Ira’s mother so that she could take Mindy or Amorinda. We know that Mindy did not want to go with her grandmother and Jane insisted. Eventually, Mindy’s father, Wilson, bribed her to stay with her grandmother using a can of peaches.
The party of seven people crossing the mountain included John Chappel, Greenberry Harris, John Harris Mullins, Jane Mullins, Wilson Mullins, Ira Mullins, and his wife Louanza Mullins. Wilson and Jane were both on horseback with Wilson leading the party and Jane fallowing behind the party… Ira was laying in the back of the wagon as he was paralyzed. Louanza and John Chappell were in the seat of the wagon. Greenberry Harris and John Harris Mullins were on foot walking behind the wagon.
Thirty minutes later, shots rang out on the mountain. Ira’s son, John Harris Mullins would run through the woods and down the mountain side toward Pound, Virginia. Scared and exhausted he arrived in the town of Pound, Virginia, where he fell into the arms of Jemima Harris screaming and sobbing about the massacre on the mountain.
Jane Mullins and her horse would disappear until 5 pm that afternoon. No clear explanation was given for her disappearance and conflicting stories have been told as to where she was. No one who came upon the scene of the event from either side of the mountain had reported seeing Jane on their travels.
This will be a multi part series broken down into two topics titled “The Killing Rock, The Oft Told Tale”, and “The Killing Rock, The Untold Story.”
We will begin our series with “The Oft Told Tale”, which is a basic telling of the story as it is often told. However, in our telling we will remove the inconsistencies and contradictions that have plagued the story for 130 years. It is our belief that the inconsistencies and contradictions arose due primarily to two facts.
The first being that the prosecution never established a motive in the trial of Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor. This led to speculation of a motive among the people of the region. Doctor Taylor was well-known and respected in the community. Not only was he considered to be a compassionate man and doctor, but he was also a preacher and former US deputy marshal.
The second is that there may have been a concerted effort to appease the speculators. Several facts about the incident seem to have been hidden using confusion and/or deception. For instance, the story tells us that Jane Mullins had died before she could testify against Henan Fleming. In this telling it is often said that Jane died in childbirth however that is not how Jane died and that is not why the charges were eventually dropped against Henan.
In “The Untold Story” we will examine and list the inconsistencies and contradictions of the story. We will dive into the events prior to the massacre which will include the only possible motive that would have directly tied Doctor Taylor and the Fleming brothers to the crime AND why that motive was never even hinted at during the trial. We will examine the transcript of the trial and why Doctor Taylor was convicted on circumstantial evidence instead of the testimony given by the “eyewitness”. Lastly, we will look at the aftereffects of the massacre and the trial.
It is our deepest hope that if you are familiar with The Killing Rock or if you are someone who stumbled upon this series about The Pound Gap Massacre that you will watch and listen to all the evidence we will present in this series with an open mind.
And that you will join us and thousands of others, who for the past 130 years have all asked the same question… Was the right man hung for the crime?
We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains.
The Pound Gap Massacre 1
A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia
By Charles A. Johnson
THE NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE: NEW YORK, August 20, 1892
The Trail of the lonesome Pine
John Fox Jr.
The Potter Family Genealogy Page
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When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent
I have attended the University of Kentucky. I have an Associates Degree from Hazard Community College and Technical School. I have also attended the University of Pikeville. I have taken several classes in Journalism as well as in the Appalachian History, Literature, and Sociology during my time at those schools.
I was born in Florida and grew up in Burdine, Kentucky. I have been married to David W. Sergent since May 4, 2013. I have two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage. I currently live in Tennessee but my hope is to one day come back home to live in the beautiful mountains once more.